The Recent Amtrak Derailment
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Started by JP - Dec. 31, 2017, 11:41 p.m.

From the linked article:

"It appears that there were two people in the lead locomotive control cab of the train... an instructor engineer, and another engineer who was learning the territory and qualifying to operate the train along the route.

The derailment occurred on the first day of higher-speed service. The propriety of conducting such training on the inaugural run of the service is debatable. Railroad union hearsay alleges that the two locomotive engineers lost track of where they were because much — if not all — previous route qualification training had taken place at night when busy freight railroad traffic could accommodate the luxury of a non-revenue passenger train on multiple training runs. As a result, on the maiden run the two engineers had difficulty associating daytime landmarks with their ever-changing location. 

To a large extent, this is the main tool engineers use to track their location. The environment’s physical characteristics are crucial to knowing one’s location just like we do when we drive our car. However, there are additional aids available depending on the train control systems in place."

Wouldn't this suggest that a robotic override might be a good idea? One, for example, that would allow the engineer to go slower than the speed it has stored as "safe" based on location along the track, but that would not allow the engineer to go faster than the safe speed for the location?

I'm not crazy about the idea of "robot drivers," but I'm not sure I see a problem with robotic override to slow something like a train when it determines it is traveling too fast for its current location.

 Source: The Hill

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