UK’s HS2 harnesses AI for future stations

High Speed 2 (HS2), the UK’s under-construction high-speed rail network, has announced the launch of a new technology initiative that could place passengers at the heart of future station designs.

An illustration of a concept design of London’s Euston station. Image: HS2

The collaborative project will be led by OpenSpace Group, an SME that was part of HS2’s Innovation Accelerator programme.

The company will work with Network Rail, train operator Avanti West Coast and the University of Birmingham, to digitise passenger flow data, using artificial intelligence (AI) and laser-based LiDAR sensors to help reduce passenger stress at HS2 stations.

HS2 says this is a ‘radical break from the past’, where the smooth flow of trains into and out of stations was at the heart of the design and build process.

The new initiative is called Future Stations Living Lab and it will use technology developed by the automotive industry to guide autonomous cars, within a real-time replica of the existing Euston station in London.

A combination of computer vision systems with LiDAR sensors will capture the movement of people in different areas of the genuine station. The data will then be overlaid on the replica station, giving designers insights into the most passenger-centric flows for new station builds.

HS2 Innovation manager, Heather Donald said, “Future Stations Living Lab is doubly innovative because it draws on both Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality technologies as well as know-how from the automotive and video gaming industries, and is rail’s first inter-sector collaboration.

“Using digital data from a live mainline station it will establish, for the first time, information to aid future design and operations.”

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