Railway Companies Leverage AI to Combat Problems With Snow Accumulation
Sun, April 11, 2021

Railway Companies Leverage AI to Combat Problems With Snow Accumulation

West Japan Railway company's AI system aims to collect data on snow accumulation in real-time to solve their problems with snow accumulation / Credits: Scharfsinn via Shutterstock

 

Japan is one of the many countries leveraging artificial intelligence to address problems. Companies are also joining the bandwagon in hopes that AI could make things easier for them. Recently, the West Japan Railway company announced that they are developing an AI system to solve their problems with snow accumulation. As of now, the railway operator uses information from meteorological data providers and past experience when deciding how many personnel to deploy for snow clearance a day beforehand. However, it is often not accurate. 

The AI system aims to collect data on snow accumulation in real-time based on images from cameras installed on the Shinkansen bullet trains and predict the required number of staff. According to the Japan Times, Japan's largest and oldest English-language daily newspaper, the AI system is tasked to gather data from images taken of moving trains with accumulated snow, study weather conditions and predict the number of personnel necessary for clearance work. Currently, the company stated that the system is set to be fully deployed next winter due to its positive results.

Aside from the West Japan Railway Company, East Japan Railway Co. also introduced an AI technology that can spray heated water onto the undersurface of the train cars to remove clumps of snow that may have accumulated. The technology was launched last December on its shinkansen trains that connect Tokyo with Akita Prefecture. Also, Central Japan Railway Co., operator of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, has cameras attached beneath some cars to check for snow accumulations that damage train cars or nearby machinery.

This is not the first time that the West Japan Railway company has used AI. In 2018, the railway operator installed an AI robot with knowledge on tourist destinations and train schedules at JR Osaka Station. Both local and foreign passengers could maneuver through the train station to tourist destinations because the robot can greatly communicate in both Japanese and English.