The concept of driverless cars is now quite common with many tech companies such as Uber, Waymo, and Tesla striving to perfect the technology. However, it seems that France has taken a step further as it plans to introduce high-speed Driverless TGV trains by 2023.

French train operator SNCF is reportedly developing a driverless TGV and SNCF expects to test the prototype of the “drone train” in 2019 for the transportation of goods on yard tracks.

France to get driverless train?

The idea is similar to the idea of an autonomous car with the only difference being that the train will follow a fixed path. The folks at publication FranceInfo sighted the drone train from a distance and it resembled a common freight train.

The driverless TGV, however, would be fitted with external sensors to anticipate even the slightest change on its track. If the train deems it fit, it will employ the automatic braking system.

It is expected that people will be able to get aboard this futuristic train by 2023. The TGV driverless train will be running between Paris and the southeast. The train will either be semi-automatic or semi-autonomous as conductors and drivers will be present on board to take control during emergency situations and complicated maneuvers. However, apart from these tricky situations, the driver’s main job role will be to open and close the doors when the vehicle arrives at a station.

According to Neowin who cited CGTN, Matthieu Chabanel from SNCF stated that the driverless TGV trains aim to employ mechanisms similar to ones found on flights.

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Engineers at SNCF are trying to fit a kind of automatic steering on the high-speed TGV’s similar to the way the autopilot takes over the controls of an aircraft for a brief moment when the pilot takes a break. FranceInfo stated that it seemed from the words of Chabanel that they are far ahead in the development of such technology compared to other European rail companies such as Deutsche Bahn in Germany.

Driverless trains will not fuel staff layoffs

SNCF assured that although the train will Run without the driver, his/her presence is necessary at all times on board to tackle emergency situations. The organization claimed that TGV will not be a subway, and human presence near the controls will be necessary. Chabanel stated that unlike metros, the TGV will be traveling in an open environment full of houses, fences, trees, and animals at a High Speed of up to 200 miles per hour. In such an open environment, any of those external factors could get in the way, which is why a driver will be needed in close proximity at all times.

Whether the U.S. will also embrace the driverless train technology in the near future remains to be seen.