DB has launched three new strategic Group programs in addition to Zukunft Bahn
Fully automatic driving on rail, autonomous driving on the road and new business models
DB is pushing for further progress in automating its trains
Subways and airport trams have already set examples around the globe for fully automated rail service without any manual steering from a driver's cab. There are already examples of these automated services in Germany. Two lines of the Nuremberg subway have run fully automatically during scheduled operations for nearly ten years. Like other companies that have automated services, DB has to ask itself these key questions: Will automating our trains to a greater degree make them more punctual and reliable? What changes will ensue for existing professions and what new professions will emerge?
DB has launched three pilot projects and has already begun gathering experience. Employees in Technology Management at DB RegioNetz Verkehrs GmbH are working on further developing the Fassi 4.0 driver assistance system, which uses the latest digital technologies to automate train operations. Fassi 4.0 is being tested for the first time at the Erzgebirgsbahn in Saxony.
DB Cargo has already successfully run the first demonstrator of an automated main-line locomotive on a test ring. Progress is also being made in piloting a fully automatic hump locomotive during shunting operations. Hump locomotives move freight cars over the hump at large classification yards.
Digitalization has opened up new possibilities for technical advancements in DB's products and for making the rail system more competitive. Speed is the factor that determines who wins the competition for customers and market share. DB has set out to become a technology leader and to advance and actively help shape rail operations.
DB wants to utilize self-driving vehicles for mobility and logistics
Driverless vehicles will soon be a reality on our roads. Road mobility will become more convenient, customized, efficient and environmentally friendly. Travel time will become productive time, whether you take your own car or opt for carsharing. The logistics industry will benefit from driverless vehicles, too, which will enable greater capacity utilization, automated fleet control and more flexibility on the customer and forwarder side. What's more, roads will be safer since human error is the cause of most accidents today. DB is actively examining how to use autonomous vehicles in the future for its customers in the fields of mobility and logistics. The idea will no longer be to take passengers from one station to another. Instead, autonomous driving will shift the focus to door-to-door mobility for customers. Autonomous cars and buses will create new opportunities to enhance DB's products and services in rural and urban areas and on long-distance routes. In just a few years, autonomous trucks will be able to be grouped into platoons on highways to take advantage of the slipstream to save fuel. The next step could conceivably be trucks that operate without a driver.
DB is establishing the structures for successful implementation
Many industries are in the midst of transformation. Digitalization has even made its way to DB's markets, which has increased competition. Here's an example: long-distance bus services would not have become established so quickly without digital platforms. What's more, business models – from rail operations in Germany to global logistics – are struggling to stay relevant. DB has valuable resources, including access to millions of customers, locations in nearly all of Germany's city centers and a high degree of recognition. Digitalization is creating a variety of new opportunities for putting these resources to use in new business models. The aim is to move away from a risk and silo mentality toward start-ups and internal business ideas. The "New business models" program creates the structural framework and identifies issues.