The system is being developed mainly in Israel. How does an agile start-up like Rail Vision collaborate with a global corporation like Knorr-Bremse?
Nicolas Lange: We want to take full advantage of the agility offered by start-ups like Rail Vision. That’s why we have acquired stakes in various start-ups without taking them over in the traditional sense. We have deliberately refrained from integrating the small, agile team in Israel into our own development teams. It’s an approach that does require a change in our mindset, and some of our employees have found this challenging. But on the whole, it is working exceptionally well.
Shahar Hania: In a partnership like this, the most important things are trust, respect, and the people you work with. We have received excellent support from Knorr-Bremse – we are in touch almost every day and have a personal contact for any technical questions. We’ve been amazed at how quickly they reply. I think Knorr-Bremse has learned a lot about collaborating with start-ups, agile working and rapid decision-making. I can imagine that these things are a challenge for any large company.
The partnership with SBB Cargo in Switzerland is a sign that the investment is starting to bear fruit. Can you tell us a little about this project?
Nicolas Lange: It takes at least two people to operate a shunting locomotive: the driver, and someone outside the vehicle to assist with the shunting itself. Thanks to Rail Vision’s camera technology and the ability to send data to a tablet, the locomotive can now be controlled remotely with no one on board. As a major operator, SBB was looking for an experienced partner who could support and integrate this technology. We were able to give the project the decisive push it needed when we stepped in as the intermediary between Rail Vision and SBB in 2019.
Shahar Hania: Our system comprises at least two external cameras and a central processor. We developed and produced the entire system ourselves in a year and a half. Due to the coronavirus restrictions, we have produced a video guide to help with the installation in Switzerland. Initially, 30 locomotives will be equipped with the system, and we are hopeful that more orders will follow.
Nicolas Lange: This technology provides an outstanding solution to the shortage of personnel. That explains why there is also so much interest in other countries that rely heavily on rail transportation, such as Japan. This really is a model use case for many rail operators around the world.