While the United States struggles to maintain and expand its rail system in the 21st century, Germany is chugging along to build upon its already effective transit infrastructure. The latest transportation innovation in Europe’s largest economy is the inclusion of autonomous vehicles to augment its rail system. Deutsche Bahn, the governmental organization that manages Germany’s transit system, believes that a fleet of self-driving vehicles will help to create a seamlessly efficient transportation system in which riders are picked up at their home and dropped at the rail station.
Deutsche Bahn already advertises its rail system as the more effective alternative to driving. Rather than concerning themselves with staying safe on the road, train riders are better able to efficiently use their time. The government train operator has been exploring the use of self-driving vehicles for several years, emphasizing the benefits of “multimodal mobility” and “end-to-end service.” No word yet on how much service would cost but it is likely cheaper than a taxi and quicker than a bus ride.
In the United States, on-demand driving services such as Uber and Lyft have coordinated with local transit authorities to connect users to stations that are just a bit too far to walk. However, any of these efforts would pale in comparison to what Germany is attempting. Deutsche Bahn has not yet announced whether it will produce the cars in-house or whether it will outsource to one of Germany’s many automakers. In the coming years, Germany’s example may help pioneer similar systems throughout the world, even in the primitive United States.