2023/03/24

#StadlerEngineers Pt.3 ‚Äď Welcome to the metaverse

In our #StadlerEngineers series, we are presenting stories from our engineering teams once a week throughout March. This is especially to mark UNESCO World Engineering Day, which took place for the fifth time this year on 4 March.

In the first two posts in this series, we have shown you that Stadler creates innovations. You already know the records for the longest passenger train (link) and the longest train journey in battery-only mode (link). However, we only achieve such success because we constantly tap into the latest technological fields and pursue innovative paths in our development processes. In today’s blog post, we would therefore like to take a closer look at one of these processes and share a story from our location in Salt Lake City. Welcome to the metaverse!

Sophisticated production

A large number of requirements must be clarified before a train can be built. Depending on the area of application, there can be considerable differences in aspects such as the track width, platform height or power system. Anyone who has ever crossed a national border by train knows that it may be necessary to wait at the border station for a change of locomotive, as there is no international interoperability – trains are simply not all the same. In addition to special technical requirements, specific customer wishes must of course also be taken into account. Examples include the required capacity, desired equipment and corresponding accessibility. And individual requirements mean that there is plenty of room for error. The specifications written down on paper must be passed on unambiguously to the engineers so that the end result corresponds precisely to the customer’s initial request.

New trains for Atlanta

In 2019, Stadler was awarded a contract by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) to build 127 Metro trains for use in Atlanta. The customer’s first requirement was that the train should be based on the predecessor models and be built to integrate modern technology into the old specifications. But things turned out very differently: the cooperation between Stadler and MARTA quickly proved so successful that the two companies decided to work together with the passengers to design a completely new train featuring state-of-the-art technology that would do justice to a major city like Atlanta. The development of a train is – as mentioned at the beginning – a complicated and above all lengthy process. In the meantime, to give Atlanta residents and MARTA’s supervisory board a glimpse into the future of their public transport system, our colleagues in the US hosted a special event last June: a VR-assisted demonstration of a complete train design.

VR, short for virtual reality, describes a computer-generated world in which images are transmitted by technical means. Our colleagues in the USA did this using head-mounted displays, or VR glasses, that enabled the wearers to immerse themselves in a whole new world – the train metaverse, so to speak.