Autonomous battery-powered rail cars could steal shipments from truckers
Parallel Systems has emerged from stealth mode with a prototype vehicle that promises to bring advances in autonomy and battery technology to the relatively staid world of freight railroads. In the process, they hope to not just electrify existing routes but also bring freight rail service to places that don’t have it today.
Whether their bet pays off will hinge on whether freight railroads and their customers will buy into a new way of operating. Parallel Systems isn’t just taking an existing freight train and swapping its diesel-electric locomotive for a battery version. Instead, it’s taking the traction motors and distributing them to every car on the train. It’s how many electric passenger trains operate, but it’s a system that has been slow to migrate to the freight world.