Parallel Systems shows off autonomous cars’ ability to move together in platoons

Parallel Systems today for the first time demonstrated the platooning capability of the autonomous, battery-electric container cars that it is developing for short-haul intermodal service.

The self-propelled cars lack traditional Janney railroad couplers. Instead, they can operate in platoons through bumper-to-bumper contact and coordinating tractive effort among all of the cars in the consist. Because the cars use electric brakes, building platoons is fully automatic because there’s no need to couple air hoses.

Parallel demonstrated the technology on its Southern California test track. The cars can travel in platoons of up to 50 cars, which improves aerodynamics while making better use of railroad capacity…

Parallel says its platooning technology could one day eliminate the need for yards because the railcars can attach and detach independently from platoons, allowing railroads to sort freight anywhere along the network where there is a switch.

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