Rail has been a driver of social change for more than 180 years. It could even be considered the startup of the first Industrial Revolution. Once again, we find ourselves in the middle of a new industrial revolution, one being driven largely by artificial intelligence (AI), with a boost from sensor technology and ever increasing data speeds. AI is DB's best shot at setting new standards in the fight against climate change, particulate matter and congestion in city centers, and it is DB's best shot at becoming a showpiece for Germany as a hub for technology and digitalization.
The mobility sector in particular has much to gain from AI. People want predictability and reliability when planning how to get from A to B. And so do industrial customers when organizing transport and logistics for their cargo. AI might be the best tool we've ever had: for efficient and transparent processes, for increased quality and capacity in rail operations, for better customer service, and for the entire mobility system, which is poised to become more flexible than ever before thanks to AI.
We are a mobility service provider and logistics specialist, but we are a tech company, too. We want to make the entire rail system smart, step by step, but to do that we need to be masters of our own technology: rail technology. To put it another way, we don't need to build our own trains, but we should know how to. And we need to be able to assess whether innovative technologies are relevant to our business and determine what effect they will have for our customers. This is the only way we will be able to both increase the capacity and appeal of rail transport and develop disruptive business models and new products and services for sustainable mobility – by rail or any other mode of transportation. It is my board division's job to promote both of these objectives in equal measure, and it is the standard that we at DB want to set for the symbiotic relationship between digitalization and technology.
Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke, Member of the Management Board for Digitalization and Technology at Deutsche Bahn AG