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Driverless tram starts test operation in Moscow

© Moscow Metro

The city of Moscow has begun the operational testing of a driverless tramway, and during the complete test circle, it will run on tram route 10 without passengers during the initial phase of operational testing.

Some facts:

  • The tramcar is equipped with the advanced so-called LiDAR systems, providing highly accurate location data and a 360-degree view.
  • The tram anticipates obstacles and stops in time if someone steps onto the tracks.
  • The software is developed by metro specialists without involving external companies.
  • In the initial phase, a driver is still present at the controls. But within the depot, it operates completely autonomously.
Presentation of tramcar 30630 on test within the depot | © Moscow Metro

This total testing concept foresees three stages:

First stage: Since 23 May 2024, trials are conducted with an unmanned tramcar without passengers, featuring a driver and a system that duplicates the driver’s actions. This system replicates over 90% of the driver’s decisions and corrects their actions in case of errors. While the system will ensure the tram’s movement, the final decisions will still rest with the driver.

Second stage: The unmanned driving system will take over the management and decision-making functions, with the driver overseeing and ensuring the machine’s actions. Additionally, test rides with passengers will commence on route 10, from Kulakova Street to the Schukinskaya metro station.

Third and final stage: The goal is to provide fully unmanned tram service with passengers, without a driver at the controls.

It is planned that the unmanned tram will begin serving passengers by the end of this year, and before the end of 2025, it will operate without a backup driver. It is anticipated that by 2027, more than 80% of the tram fleet will be equipped with an automated control system.