20 Minutes Into The Future

This article caught my eye.

If the provincial or federal government actually created a program for regional rail systems in the country, they could also carry freight, creating a regional rail system that would not only serve the public, but businesses as well.

With autonomous battery  powered rail-cars, we could see “Mixed Trains” in operation in the off peak hours where a local D/EMU could consist of three or four ‘wagons’ carrying containers to be dropped off a strategic locations and they could autonomously shunt themselves to their destinations.

This would bring a complete new dimension to a regional railway by offering a freight service competitive with a truck.

20 minutes into the future is closer than you think!


Autonomous battery-powered wagons to be tested in Georgia

Parallel Systems platoon

USA: Genesee & Wyoming is to pilot the use of autonomous battery-powered wagons on two short lines in Georgia, saying the technology from Parallel Systems could be used to transport containers to and from the Port of Savannah, reinvigorate rural railways, revive inland ports and remove lorries from the roads.

G&W has applied to the Federal Railroad Administration to undertake the trial on its Georgia Central Railway and Heart of Georgia Railroad subsidiaries.


If approved, the multi-phase project would begin next year, enabling the technology to be demonstrated in a field setting with ’carefully developed protocols to ensure the pilot is operated in a safe, controlled manner’.

Parallel Systems was founded in January 2020 by three engineers who previously worked at rocket company SpaceX. Co-founder Matt Soule said railways provide an ideal environment for the testing and commercialisation of autonomous technology, as there is limited access to the track, centralised traffic control systems already exist and weight limits mean larger batteries can be used than on roads.


In January 2022 the company announced $49·6m of Series A funding led by Anthos Capital and including Congruent Ventures, Riot Ventures, Embark Ventures and others. This was followed by a $4·4m grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy initiative to support testing of a prototype which began in southern California in November 2022.

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