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New York Computerizes its Subway System

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the do-the-f-line-next dept.

Technology 492

Iphtashu Fitz writes "New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority launched it's first fully computer controlled subway line this month. The `L' Line of the MTA that connects the southern part of Manhattan with Brooklyn was picked for this pilot program because of its relatively short length and the fact that it doesn't share tracks with any other lines. Trains on this line no longer have conductors on board, and only a single driver in the front to monitor all the systems. What's the big deal, you may ask? After all, cities like San Francisco and Paris already have computerized subway lines. Well, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary the MTA is one of the oldest subway systems in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. If all goes well, the MTA will continue to expand automated service to the rest of the subway system over the next 20 years. But just how safe and secure will these new automated lines be? The radio links that provide data communication between the trains and the control center are encrypted, but how long until a hacker manages to crack it?"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208420)

FP!

Cracker schmackers (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208422)

But just how safe and secure will these new automated lines be? The radio links that provide data communication between the trains and the control center are encrypted, but how long until a hacker manages to crack it?"

Worry more about the failsafes. Are they independent systems, or would a single point of failure allow to trains to attempt to pass through each other? A good failsafe system should keep passengers safe from accident even if some cracker gets in. Hopefully it won't be a matter of life and death because some programmer who actually worked on the system suffered a brain-fart and assumed 1 based instead of 0.

As for the 20 year estimate, that sounds more the result of negotiations with the transit workers union than ability to get things switch over. You know City Hall, when it comes to a budget, they suddenly know the value of each penny and would switch the whole thing over in a couple years, tops.

On the subject of anniversaries... 2005 will be the 50th of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Re:Cracker schmackers (3, Informative)

same_old_story (833424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208449)

actually, the bombs were dropped during the II World War, that is 1945. it will mark the 60th anniversarie.

Re:Cracker schmackers (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208460)

actually, the bombs were dropped during the II World War, that is 1945. it will mark the 60th anniversarie.

D'oh! Brain fart! Good thing I'm not a coder on the NYC Subway!

now to get back to my robotics for performing open heart surgery..

Funny you bring up Japan (0, Offtopic)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208486)

Japan's rail systems are a fairly well-done hybrid of computerization and old-fashioned human eyes. The biggest problems down over there have been failures due to catastrophic geologic and meteorological events. Add to that that the train system employees are usually well-trained, and you have a pretty well done system.

It's funny you mention about the atomic bombs. Japan, though certainly not 100% over the incident, has put it behind themselves and tried to get along with the U.S. On the other hand, China and Korea can't let go what happened almost 70 years ago (20 years earlier than the bombs) and are rioting and staging protests against Japan's "whitewashing" of history.

Re:Funny you bring up Japan (0, Offtopic)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208668)

I guess it pays to make sure you put friendly leaders in charge after a military action.

Power Grid Setup (3, Interesting)

PhYrE2k2 (806396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208509)

Take a look at the way the power grid works (or is intended to work). The big North America power shutdown two summers ago was that a power plant in north eastern United States sent bad data to the grid, which triggered a shutdown. It's better to be safe than sorry.

While I agree it could have probably tried to isolate the problem more rather than a full shutdown, I'm sure it was designed this way for good reason with more serious problems in mind.

If signaling gets interrupted, really all trains should assume the worst- that there is another train or object right in front of them and stop. Now this means that anyone with a jammer above ground of some sort could shut down the subway line... but again the lesser of two evils.

They should really consider instead some sort of 'data' rail or something. I wonder if data over the power rail works with such high voltage?

How are they going to take into account kids on the tracks and stuff. I realize this is underground and a subway, but there have been cases where kids explore the tunnels late in the evenings when the trains are sparse. You can get to most of them through various access points taht are often pretty accessable to those with some intuition and a willingness to climb.

-M

Re:Power Grid Setup (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208554)

Those kids would of course become Darwin award recipients. Put some old-fashioned cow catchers on the front car, and the problem is solved. I wish the Chicago transit system would do that; it seems like every other week some train line is shut down because somebody jumped in front of a train. Maybe it should be a more organized process, like have a sign that says "suicides jump here".

Re:Power Grid Setup (1)

quelrods (521005) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208559)

What's the voltage of them? Internet via power lines (even 500k volt high tension wires) exists in some parts of the country.

Re:Power Grid Setup (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208696)

The NYC subway's third rail carries 600VDC.

Re:Power Grid Setup (4, Informative)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208586)

Non-New Yorkers may be excused for not getting our backward terminology for train staff.

The 'Conductor,' who in the rest of the worl drives the trains, sits in the center of NYC subway trains and opens and closes the doors, and announces stops (until the recorded voices in recent trains, that is).

The guy driving the train up front, and looking for kids and other garbage on the tracks, is called the 'motorman.' You see, he's the guy that turns the motor on and off. Or something.

Anyhow, they're planning to eliminate the conductor, but keep the motorman- so there will still be someone up front watching for imminent collisions. When they're not asleep, that is.

Actually (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208695)

Conductors are usually the ones that check your tickets or collect fares.

Re:Cracker schmackers (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208526)

As for the 20 year estimate, that sounds more the result of negotiations with the transit workers union than ability to get things switch over. You know City Hall, when it comes to a budget, they suddenly know the value of each penny and would switch the whole thing over in a couple years, tops.

Not too likely. The biggest constraint is probably that they only have about 2 to 3 hours per day to actually do the work, including setup and teardown and a limited number of crews with the knowledge to do the work.

Toronto Transit is completing a similar signal upgrade project which will take them about 10 years to complete from the start of design / budgeting through to the testing period (run both systems in parallel for years afterword -- still part of the project).

Drivers and other crack-heads (2, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208622)

Even with failsafes, there seems no end to the way humanss can bypass the system. Deadman's switches can be taped down etc.

I heard of an incident, I think in London, where there were two safeguards in the driver's cab: the deadman's switch had to be held and the door had to be shut. Pretty soon, the drivers figured to tape up the switch and open/shut the door as a control mechanism. This was fine until a driver stepped out of the cab at a station and let the door slide shut. Train goes off with no driver!

Re:Drivers and other crack-heads (4, Funny)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208688)

This happened with a train I was riding on the SF Muni. The train is supposed to leave after the computerized control system clears the train out of the station, and after the driver hits the door close button, and after the doors actually close. Well, this train was malfunctioning (thanks, Breda!) and the door wouldn't close. But the train had been cleared and the driver had hit the door close switch. So the driver gets out of the cab, walks out the door onto the platform, and dislodges the door, which closes. The train takes off and he's still on the platform. Comedy, I tell you.

Re:Cracker schmackers (0, Redundant)

Aymon (676547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208648)

1945 + 50 = 2005?

Hi! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208423)

eferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-- Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

How long until its cracked? (2, Funny)

duffahtolla (535056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208424)

They probably already have.

Re:How long until its cracked? (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208510)

dont let the fed in find out. they will hack it in 3 minutes!... ...all part of their sinister plot to take over mass transit...

Hmm (5, Funny)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208432)

The radio links that provide data communication between the trains and the control center are encrypted, but how long until a hacker manages to crack it?

Only if DVD-Jon has an MTA-Bob counterpart

Subways big targets? (0)

ecko3437 (802386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208434)

I don't even want to think about someone hacking the subways. What a nightmarish hell that'd be for passengers. Almost could be a terrorist target: get the trains stopped or something, put men on board who were waiting in the tunnels at predefined positions... thats one hell of a lot of hostages.

I dont know about you but I'm more comfortable with things the old way.

Re:Subways big targets? (1)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208473)

You wouldn't even need to use them as hostages per se. Being underground and cut off from escape routes they're already hostages of a sort. The Daegu Subway disaster showed what happened when a fire goes out of control, and the Tokyo nerve gas attack was nasty as well. The TGV train also had a tunnel fire that was really awful. You don't need to take people hostages in the conventional sense -- you can do plenty from more remote locations.

Not sure how that figures into computer-controlled systems. The majority of the casualties in the Daegu fire were the result of human error, but I still feel more comfortable with the idea of humans at the helm. Dunno.

Re:Subways big targets? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208494)

"I dont know about you but I'm more comfortable with things the old way."

Wait, why?

How is hacking the train system and having people in predetermined locations any less complicated than holding up the engineer driving the train and forcing him to stop it?

Your plan:
1. Hack Train System.
2. Stop Train at Pre-determined location
3. Have baddies with guns at location to hold hostages.

My plan:
1. Use gun to stop train.
2. Use gun to hold hostages.

Not sure why you'd want to go through the trouble of all that hacking for essentially no gain.

Re:Subways big targets? (2, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208541)

I don't even want to think about someone hacking the subways. What a nightmarish hell that'd be for passengers. Almost could be a terrorist target: get the trains stopped or something, put men on board who were waiting in the tunnels at predefined positions... thats one hell of a lot of hostages.

I am seeing a trend that cities are doing. They are installing tons of camera's, in the 1000's range. I think Chicago now has over 3000 camera's the police can use. I got a ticket in the mail a few weeks ago, it was a camera attached to a radar gun. They are removing people, and adding technology. Technology can't think, it can just do what it's programmed to do. And you are right, if terrorists knock out these systems, or hack them, then what? They will be watching us, controling our trains, and controling our electricity. Maybe law enforecement is making a honey pot, I dunno.

But I doubt terrorists would hack the system to hijack a train. They would just program them to run into each other at high speed. Terrorists don't care about stopping one train, they want to make people afraid to use the trains at all.

There is some psychological comfort of having a conductor. A conductor would force terrorists to come on the train, because if he saw an oncomming train on the same track, he could stop his train. It would take a boat load of osama's to hijack the train I would be on. Then the train passengers could get revenge for 9/11. But it would take one hacker to reprogram the train route and what tracks it uses.

Re:Subways big targets? (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208614)

Like every few years, when a rainstorm paralyzes the City by shutting down the poorly maintained railways, or the occasional blackout? Why fear terrorists, when the MTA maintenance incompetence actually screws us up our lives fairly often?

Re:Subways big targets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208632)

a terrorist target: get the trains stopped or something, put men on board who were waiting in the tunnels at predefined positions



Islamists don't bother with these sorts of details -- they just get on board and detonate themselves. Hacking the train's computer is what old fashioned bad guys do in the movies to get the train to jump tracks and crash into the alligator pond in Central Park.

Terrorists or Disgruntled MTA employees? (1)

enochthered (875331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208651)

I'll sure as hell be pissed when I lose my job to a computer. Although I'm sure the computer would do it quite a bit better than I... And besides, this gives hundreds of C-list actors and actresses work (for the super-thriller TV movie), so I guess that's philosohpic balance in a way.

Follow up story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208435)

New York train system brought to a halt by computer glitch.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208436)

fp

Oh no (5, Funny)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208437)

The `L' Line of the MTA

Man, that just brought back horrific memories of sendmail M4 syntax.

As per an earlier story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208438)

So this is where they are shipping the robot camel jockys...

I can see it now... (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208451)

"New York Computerizes its Subway System"

This sounds like the beginning of another crappy TV movie...

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Segfault666 (662554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208512)

Or "metro", a realitiy seriese to see who can withstand on riding this new metro, 'the longest'. common, they do that at the calgary stampede each year.. "be the longest to ride the ferris wheel and win 10,000", the stampede goes on for about 2 weeks. and yes, in july - it can be hot in canada!

Do you wish to stop? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208452)

Yes No Cancel

...whaaat (1)

nathanmock (856905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208453)

A little behind on times? I wonder what operating system they will use :x

Motive (1)

plabtfall (859254) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208454)

Does this mean that now, when the train breaks down every week, the MTA will just blame it on hackers?

Obligitory.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208455)

I for one, welcome our subways new computerized overlords.

Potential problems (5, Interesting)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208458)

In New York, train dwell times--time spent in stations--can be frustratingly long, especially during rush hours. Besides people pushing and shoving to get on the train, you've also got the jokers who hold the doors for their friends who're still running down the stairs.

Without a conductor, who's going to yell at everyone to stop holding the doors? How does this work in other automated systems, like Paris's Météor?

Re:Potential problems (4, Informative)

boa13 (548222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208568)

Without a conductor, who's going to yell at everyone to stop holding the doors? How does this work in other automated systems, like Paris's Météor?

Trust me, you don't hold the doors -- you can't, they're too strong. Or maybe you can, but I've yet to see someone try (even though that's a local sport on other, non-automated lines -- it's not like nobody ever holds doors in Paris).

They make some kind of "sound of inevitability", loud and somewhat fast. Then, there's the fact that there are two set of doors per opening (one for the platform, one for the train itself), twice as much to hold when compared to the older lines.

Finally, there's decent traffic on the line, you don't have to wait much if you miss a train (except after 10pm, when you need to wait five minutes or so).

So, as much as it occured even to me to hold the doors for a nearby friend on other lines (nearby meaning really nearby, not at the top of the stairs far over there), it never occured on line 14 (the automated line).

Re:Potential problems (1)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208628)

Interesting! Thanks for the information.

This being New York, maybe they should just replace the rubber door seals with razor blades. I kind of miss the days when you had to kick severed limbs out of the way to get to work.

Re:Potential problems (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208608)

why should the doors stop? maybe they can bounce back once, and then make some sort of "ok, now I mean business" beep, and then close for good. who's going to feel sorry for you if you get hurt that way?

that, or they could just have a cop on the platform issuing tickets for anyone who holds the doors open...

Re:Potential problems (4, Insightful)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208658)

And if you trip? Or (as has happened to me a few times) your wheelchair stalls in the doorway? Or a stubborn young child doesn't want to come with their parent? Or ... I don't think I need to continue.

In short, shit happens. There should always be a mechanism so the door stops automatically if an electric eye or a pressure sensor notes an obstruction. Now, a long enough delay should probably summon human intervention, but the doors should never just close.

Re:Potential problems (3, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208635)

I don't know about Paris' underground system, but some new systems install double doors, doors on the platform that match the train doors. It isn't possible to hold each one open at the same time easily. New sections of the london underground have it. it also stops suicides as the inner doors only open when a train is stopped.

Not that I've ever seen a conductor on the london underground, either on the train or on the platform. Just some monitors for the driver to see, and a populace who can behave to some extent.

Re:Potential problems (5, Informative)

timealterer (772638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208659)

Here in Vancouver, we occasionally have an issue on our automated rapid transit trains with people holding the doors. Luckily, in the absense of a conductor to yell at the fool holding everybody up, the other train passengers take on this role. The doors will try to close, and if obstructed, will re-open for about 2 seconds. If you're still in the way a second time, people start to voice their annoyance that you're making them late for work.

Re:Potential problems (5, Insightful)

quetzalc0atl (722663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208667)

this problem, and others related to subway travel, have existing engineering solutions.

how to stop people from holding the doors? place a 2nd set of doors on the platform outside the train, a set which ppl will have to walk through in order to get on the train. This set would close around 10 seconds before the train doors - therefore, no point trying to hold them open. And if you have ever been in NY, you will know that ppl all surround the train doors before they open and then push each other chaotically. having a 2nd set of doors, along with a series of gates to herd the ppl aboard quickly, would be a simple solution to this.

another thing that could be done is that while ppl are waiting at the station the platform could have a scale under it. Based upon the weight, the number of ppl waiting for the train at that particular station could be estimated, and using this value traffic decisions such as "have next train stop at station" or "just pass this station by - not enough ppl" could be made by a centralized system such as the one in the article.

Re:Potential problems (2, Informative)

NaruVonWilkins (844204) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208669)

In the Japanese systems in Tokyo, there are people to check for such things, even though the system is automated. In the SkyTrain system in Vancouver, Canada, there are no personnel at any of the stops. I have experienced extremely packed stations after a hockey game got out, and I saw that the doors couldn't really be held open - like an elevator door, they closed slowly after being blocked open once.

When BART was a SINGER (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208468)

I was in Jr High when BART was being built. Our school's computer classes were given access to the SINGER computer that was setup to run BART.

We as students had great funny trying out the different options avaiable at the time. We tried to get into train control programs to see what we could do.

I think the guys at BART were using us to test security on system. One week we would be able to run train control and "race" trains (actually just the train objects, the tracks were not even layed yet!) and the following week we weren't.

MTA in should let students help in debugging the logic... because we as students did not know what was or was to work... we just played.

Re:When BART was a SINGER (2, Interesting)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208602)

Our school's computer classes were given access to the SINGER computer that was setup to run BART.

I don't recall hearing abuot a Singer computer used for running BART, but they did have quite a collection of rare hardware. One example was that they had three of the four of a certain model of Philco computers in existence (ca 1975). They also had some Westinghouse Prodac 2000 boxes.

I've also heard that there was a small bug in the simulation program that led them to think capacity was going to be higher than in the real world.

FWIW, first time I rode BART was when the Richmond line was opened on Jan 29, 1973 - was a freshmen at the big U at the time.

hackers.... (-1)

mangus_angus (873781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208471)

but how long until a hacker manages to crack it?

Done...next?

Programming (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208475)

If the system is programmed properly, then they should be able to easily replace the encryption module and rebuild the software. As long as they change keys every so often and increase the key strength as cpu power increases nobody will crack it. The real quesiton is, are they going to do that? I'm betting no. Let me tell you, I don't mind the subway. But I don't want to be stuck on it for many hours with many scary people.

When I was a kid... (3, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208476)

I wanted to automate control of model railroad switches from a computer. At the time, it probably would have ended in disaster. However, looking at the problem now, it doesn't seem too complicated:

  • Track the velocities of the trains.
  • Track positions of switches
  • If a train is approaching a switch, make sure the switch is in a position that won't derail it.
  • If a train has a switch locked (i.e. it's on top of it, or nearly so), stop the train that is approaching but doesn't have a lock. Resume when lock lifted.
  • Ensure that trains don't rear-end each other.
  • Use the same locking mechanism for crossings, so trains won't collide.
  • Add switch behavior hints as needed if a train has a specific destination, as opposed to merely running round and round the track.


You might be able to ID each train by its engine's impedance to current flow on a segment of track, though that might be affected by the load on the electric motor.

Semaphors Mutex Locking (1)

PhYrE2k2 (806396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208565)

So this is a basic Semaphor and locking algorithm.

Pretty much make sure that the trains don't use the same track (resources).

Have a timer for the station waits and an attendant to help enforce them (again locking to ensure the doors are all closed)- maybe some sort of fine for trying to enter after an orange light comes on or something (read: money grab).

Most slashdot readers could probably write this in C, Perl, Assembly, etc in a matter of a couple hours. DESPITE this, it's the actual signalling that becomes more difficult. Getting the trains to do what they're supposed to do based on your structure.

Somehow the word WIRELESS severely concerns me in this process. Have switches and read status using ifrared or something as you pass every few yards/metres.

-M

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208712)

We tried this in a project at university many years ago. Problem was that the power was so noisy in a standard electric train set that we couldn't establish with any certainty exactly where the train was, let alone which train it was.

hmm (-1, Troll)

Segfault666 (662554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208481)

overzealous cops have a new feeding ground. yay! OMFG He's got a notebook on the train, get him! he's a terrorist! yay nyc has is moving to the new millenia.

Re:hmm (-1, Offtopic)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208654)

overzealous cops have a new feeding ground. yay! OMFG He's got a notebook on the train, get him! he's a terrorist! yay nyc has is moving to the new millenia.

In Chicago, they have train cops that walk up and down the train cars. They are big intimidating looking motherfuckers. One day, not a very cold day, but I knew it would cool off that night, I was taking the train into chicago. Not very many people were on the 2pm train and I had a sweater with me, rolled up with a cd-player in the middle (I did not want it to fall). My sweater is next to the window seat, I am in the isle seat. I am reading the Chicago Sun Times, half asleep to the rest of the world, when I feel this mass bumping into my shoulder. It was a cop, standing fully tall and erect, his chest pushed out, just staring at me through his dark sun glasses. The body part bumping into me was his fucking groin. After looking at him for a minute, trying to think of something to say, he asks "I saw you stick your hand in the sweater, what are you hiding". Son of a bitch! I anwserd "It's an air displacement device designed to deliever an acousitic payload". HAHAHA! Stupid fucking me. The police officer put his hand on his gun. I noticed little beads of sweat start to form on his forehead. I went to unroll the sweater, when I realized he might take that as an agressive move. So I let him stand there the next 5 minutes, bumping his groin into my shoulder. It finally dawned on me there was a guy sitting 10 seats down from me with an indian or pakistani apperance. I asked the cop "hey, that guy has a bag next to him and there is a funny smell", so for the remainder of the ride, it was the light brown guy who had a cock pressed up against him. Too bad the cop could not tell the difference between the smell of bomb making materials and a guy who ate curry at lunch. I am just glad they did not bring out the horny police dogs. The last thing I would have wanted to do was burry my head under a seat while the dog kept me "under control" for the half hour ride.

just read this on ieee spectrum (4, Interesting)

conrius (814609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208484)

seems that recently a portion of the subway burnt down and when the guys went down to repair it they found that the hardware driving the system dated back to the 1930's. After more digging they found that the original systems laid in the early 1900's till 1920 were still operating and actually in daily use in many other parts of the subway. point is that thing is working well that they dont want to touch the thing. the other fact is that there is no way they are going to get the thing changed without majorly affecting the daily workings of the system.

Sensible approach (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208488)

Sounds like they are taking a very sensible approach to computerisation. Because we all know how reliable computers are right. What is really needed is a computer system with the same concern for its own destruction that a human conductor would have riding on a train when faced with another train coming the other way.

They should computerize their pitching staff! (-1, Offtopic)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208489)

Man, what's with the Yanks this year? Their collective ERA must be over 6... and everybody's hitting their weight. Argh!

I was reading the it... (5, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208490)

and everything was fine til I got to this sentance:

Trains on this line no longer have conductors on board

I dunno about the rest of you, but I want a conductor on the train. Things like having a human look outside the train to make sure nobody is about to get on when the doors close, having someone on the train in case of an emergancy, having someone on the train that is a detterent to crime (just imagine, would a would-be rapist be more or less likely to rape a woman if a conductor was walking up and down the cars).

And part of me feels bad for the guy losing the job, the conductor.

Continue reading the news story:

To have a truly integrated system, the city would have to continue buying all its equipment from Siemens AG, effectively giving it a monopoly.

This also raises a red flag. One company that will in effect control the whole parts system? How can we know we won't get hosed with the price?

Even if they do autimate, lets keep the conductor. Someone who knows how the train runs. Someone who can over-ride the computers if needed. Every vessel needs her captin.

Re:I was reading the it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208543)

Well as the story description says, there's a guy in the front of the train.

Re:I was reading the it... (3, Insightful)

WhiteBandit (185659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208557)

Yeah, the San Francisco Muni [sfmuni.com] is only computerized while the trains are in the tunnels (and not while the trains are on the surface streets).

That said, even in the tunnels, each train still has a conductor/driver to take over in case something happens (such as someone throwing themselves in front of the train). The only thing the conductors do in the tunnel is close the doors (even the opening is controlled by computers).

Re:I was reading the it... (1)

flithm (756019) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208580)

I agree with you about the monopoly, that's never good.

But about the conductor. I agree it's kind of sad for conductors, and it's nice (in theory) to have a pair of eyes watching out for the safety of all.

BUT, in the case, I think a well designed system could actually work much better than a human.

Humans are good at observing, but only while they're observing. Where I live the conductors on the trains are mostly staring blankly into nothingness. They don't prevent people from getting doors closed on them, they rarely stop the train longer than is scheduled to wait even if someone is running to catch it. They're basically robots, only they do a shitty ass job because their task is so monotonous and boring.

If a system were designed well enough this is a perfect case where computers will do much better than human, simply because computers don't get bored, and they don't slack off.

As for the would be rapist. All trains have those help buttons, and I hope if someone was getting raped we don't need a conductor to push the button and call for help.

Re:I was reading the it... (1)

manifest37 (632701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208583)

Apparently you have never been to NYC. The conductor just drives the train that is it. They do not leave their booth at all. The tranist authority deals with what goes on in the train.
As mentioned in the article Paris and SF already have automated trains.

Re:I was reading the it... (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208617)

the conductor does not drive the train. please come to nyc
and check again.

Re:I was reading the it... (3, Informative)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208621)

The Skytrain in Vancouver BC is completely automated, and it works well.

The doors have "pinch" sensors, and while people can use them to get the door to re-open, it only re-opens three times until the system flags a central operator. Usually people start yelling after the second time.

In emergencies, there's a panic strip and a comm system, and cameras.

There are control panels, but they're only used when something bizarre has happened on the track and manual routing is needed.

Re:I was reading the it... (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208655)

I understand what you're saying, but you have clearly never ridden an MTA train. Basically, there is no room for passengers to move from point to point once inside, it would be completely impossible for a conductor to do the same.

frost pIsT? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208496)

Ser7Er crashes

Railroaded (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208513)

What the MTA really needs to do is publish realtime subway position info. On billboards in the stations, on their website, on automated phone lines, as a pager/sms subscription/request service. Millions of us use it daily, wasting millions of hours of America's most productive workforce as we wait for trains, miss express connections, clog stations. The uncertainty keeps many people using cars and taxis, which make the roads even worse. Automating subways will save a few million a year in conductor costs, out of an $8B budget, which will be lost every day in the productivity of our workers. But I guess MTA contractors don't get a cut of the productivity gains from sensible priorities. Thanks Mayor Bloomberg, and Governor Pataki (who controls the MTA), and Sir Giuliani, who blew the only real chance of taking the subway back from the state for the people who it actually serves.

Re:Railroaded (2, Interesting)

Leontes (653331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208562)

This is an excellent point. When I lived in the city, I would obsessively calculate where I should exit the train in order to leave the station or transfer trains in the most efficient way possible. With a digital billboard with the location, speed, and pattern of the trains clearly viewable to the public, the efficiency increase for people traveling in the city would be enormous. People would intuitively know where to exit and enter trains, whether it was better to wait, to take the local or the express, whether it's worth walking a few blocks or wait for that train that's just about to appear from the corner. Every regular subway rider does this already, the increase in possible information would just take the equation forward a couple thousand iterations.

Re:Railroaded (3, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208631)

As a native New Yorker, I'm torn. I cherish the veteran's advantage of mastering the routing strategy and split-second decisions whether to jump for transfers, or blow off an express. But the prospect of thousands of commuters getting out of the way, on their own initiative guided by "live maps" in the stations makes me grin. Someday, maybe after we get those flying cars they used to draw in NYC comics...

Re:Railroaded (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208687)

A couple years ago I was working at a design firm that was part of the clean up process for downtown. We were not privy to details, but one of the plans for the WTC includes almost a "modern" Grand Central, that would be used to connect busses, ferry's, subway and PATH. Part of the plan included starting to set up an automated system, but it was going to be a gigantic job.

The Subways are huge, and old, and it's easy to forget that. Adding such a system is a huge undertaking. I bet we see the 2nd ave line first.

Re:Railroaded (1)

mithras the prophet (579978) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208682)

I agree that would be great. A stopgap measure that I saw on the subway in Budapest is to simply have timers that count up, resetting when a train leaves the station. So you know when the last train was there, and can use that to gauge how long your wait will probably be.

(Yes, we use proxies for this information, like how many other people are on the platform; and it doesn't let you know when there's a snafu and the next train won't be for 25 minutes. Like I said, a stopgap, but I think a handy one.)

Obsured reference (1)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208514)

Curious Kid #1: Ohhh... neeeaaato!
Curious Kid #2: Neeato! No driver!
Curious Kid #1: What's that at the end of the tunnel?
Curious Kid #2: A headlight?
Alarmed Passenger: A HEADLIGHT! HEEEEELLLLP! Somebody stop the train!

Sorry - Prefer a computer to people (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208525)

Computers don't:
1) get drunk.
2) get distracted. (Chicago collision recently)
3) fall asleep.

All of which have killed people in the past. People can whine all they want about how dangerous it is not to have a person running the trains. Personally, I'm happier. Controlling trains in 1D isn't that hard folks. Not at all like flying an airplane, where autopilot has been accepted for decades.

The status displays are the killer app (5, Insightful)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208533)

On the BART or DC's Metro, the displays that tell you when the next train is coming are really just there to calm your impatience- normally the train you're waiting for is the only one you can take anyhow.

In New York City, which has an enormously complex subway system, it's different. If you're standing in the Times Square subway station, you can choose from at least seven different subway lines, radiating in all directions.

Without a status display, New Yorkers are reduced to leaning over the edge of the platform to peer down a darkened tunnel for the telltale glint of subway headlights when deciding to wait for the 3 or jump on the 1. Forget about running upstairs to check for the R- you have to go with your gut that the IRT generally comes more frequently than the BMT (how's that for some old school NY goodness?)

The most exciting thing the article mentions are the status displays (grafitti resistant, I hope) that give you a running diplay of approaching trains and their time to arrival.

New Yorkers are notoriously impatient, and a large part of why we're so rude is having to deal with the daily hassles of getting from one end of the stinkin' island to another. I guarantee these status screens will attract so many eyeballs that they'll pay for themselves with supplemental advertising within months.

Re:The status displays are the killer app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208706)

Holy crap, yeah I can just phase out or read the paper while waiting for the DC Metro. We even got a new display that shows times for the next 3 trains. I imagine the only thing it shares in common with the NYC subway is people standing on the left will be falling on the left. I'm moving to NYC in a few months, I guess I better prepare myself...

umm.. (1)

forum__32 (690326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208535)

I'm pretty sure you have a better chance getting your ass kicked on the subway, then a cracker hacking the system and the train crashing...

Thanks Alot (0)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208538)

The radio links that provide data communication between the trains and the control center are encrypted, but how long until a hacker manages to crack it?

Before, or after, you made that comment?

Seriously 90% (based on my observations) of true hackers wouldn't do something that would threaten people's lives on that kind of scale. That excludes script kiddies. Just hope you haven't gone and put ideas in the other ~10%'s heads.

the tracks, jim! (3, Interesting)

homerj79 (58075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208552)

I wonder if instead of using radio, if they could devise a way to send the signals down the track? That way the hacker would have to risk their life to try to take over the train.

OK I can't resist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208556)

In Soviet US, the subway system computerizes New York?

Just a scam to avoid paying working people (1, Troll)

scottfk (125751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208575)

Knowing the MTA (the New York State agency that runs New York City's public transportation), this has just been an expensive boondogle to transfer money from working New York City residents (the CR's, or conductors) to the executives of the companies who "bought" this system with kickbacks.

Look at the last "triumph" of the MTA... the MetroCard. How much does the MTA pay to the failed defense contractor who provided the somewhat-reliable MetroCard infrastructure? How much does the MTA pay each year for MetroCard media (of course, only said former defense contractor can provide these magstripe-laden pieces of plastic)? And based on these "savings," how many token booths have been closed? (Extend this to the extended number of muggings in the now-unsupervised subway stations...)

If I weren't such a dedicated capitalist, I'd swear that the money was being shop-vac'ed from labor, straight into the capital coffers.

In short... we just spent a lot of money to take jobs way from our fellow working-men and women, and sent our latest fare increase to the fat cats in Albany and their pimps.

it's going to be better regardless (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208584)

This is definitely a good thing. From what people say, the NYC subway is a technological nightmare. A few months back a fire destroyed an equipment room full of controol equipment dating from the 70s, effectively disabling a portion of the line for several months because the equipment was completely proprietary and non-redundant.

That being said, the whole NYC transit system needs to be seriously rethought. Even worse than the transit system in NYC itself is the regional transit system in the suburban areas. Coverage is dismal.

Re:it's going to be better regardless (2, Informative)

mjolnir_ (115649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208623)

That line was up and running again in weeks, not months, mostly because a) big political bureaucracies like the NYC MTA always overstate the time/budget needed (aka the 'Scotty effect'), and b) the system wasn't so overly complicated that replacing the gear, recreating the settings, etc, didn't take as long or cost as much as it would've if the system was using modern electronics.

Some of the equipment destroyed was actually from the 1930s; the MTA took advantage of the unplanned downtime to patch the system to more recent vinntage gear and bring it more in line with the whole of the system.

Is it slick, no, but it runs, and most days it runs pretty damn well. Better than what CALTRANS can do with a few billion dollars and a private ATM switched network -- and the NYC subway carries more people further every day.

Re:it's going to be better regardless (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208705)

Caltrans doesn't operate any railroads. Are you perhaps thinking of BART?

The S shuttle (1)

mjolnir_ (115649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208587)

This headline is not entirely accurate. The S shuttle from Times Square/42nd Street to Grand Central was at one point in the 1960s 'automated,' though probably not necessarily computerized.

IIRC there was a fire involved in endinng the project after a very brief trial run.

I ride the subway at least twice a day on workdays and as much as I am comforted knowing a conductor, with a radio, is somewhere on the train, most days I never even see one. Add in an iPod and their existence is practically negligible. I'd sacrifice their presence if it could demonstrably improve wait times and decrease overall congestion throughout the system.

B/Q from 7th Ave in 718 to either Canal or B'way/Lafayette. 29 minutes door to door, spent listening to music, reading, etc.

Supporting mass transit = non-supporting the oil regimes and all the related corrupt political systems, including our own. (Biking is still better, of course.)

-mj

New Yorkers are against this (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208589)

Problem is you NEED a conductor on the subway train, just in case something happens on the train. They are able to call police, or tell the driver to stop, etc.

Removing conductors will definately reduce safety, not because of hackers, but because of conductor's ability to control various situations that may arise on the train.

Re:New Yorkers are against this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208652)

read the article -- there will still be a conductor

Safe and Secure? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208594)

Did I just read those two words in a story about the new York subway system?

How about working on service first? (1)

I_redwolf (51890) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208595)

I take the A/C Line everyday to work. A central switch system center caught fire and service has been even more horrid since the incident. I've also noticed an increase in vermin and general subway disrepair everywhere I look. Other lines are even worst. When I occasionally have to transfer to the 4/5 they have brand new trains but they are so slim line that it's not just cramped but hard to even stand.

Then I read about this computer system somewhere and I looked at the increase in fare i've been paying and i've gotta wonder to myself?

WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MTA DOING? If you live in NYC the subway is the worst part of your day.. That and the Starbuck lids.

323 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208598)

wqfdaefaffafasgsag asegasegge saeggesgae gesa

Useless Fanciness (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208599)

I'm not sure how useful this fancy automated system is. The current automatic block system with mechanical stops is VERY reliable, having had 100 years to be refined. It also has been shown to be fail-safe, and has capacity for 30 trains per hour (and up to 40 in more refined variants). The fail-safe mechanisms on railroad signal logic are amazing. Relays have weights on them rather than springs, because springs are more likely to fail. Everything is very very carefully designed to not fail, or if it does fail, to do so in the way that is safest.
The new system, however, is based on computers. The way it detects trains is by ping latency. So a train basically has to tell the system where it is, and the system tells the train how far it can go. As for hackability, I think the system is based either on plain 802.11b or some derivative of it. It's really plenty hackable.
Does it provide anything in terms of safety? Not really. The only reason that accidents happened was because the signal system was badly designed or the train's brakes failed to work correctly. Also, the BART signal system was known for its spectacular failures in the early years. However, at roughly the same time, the all-automated PATCO system opened which used primarily coded track circuits rather than a computerized packet network, and has not had any problems since then. Same goes for many other systems, such as Boston, Washington, etc.
Finally, there's definitely quite a revolving door between the MTA and the various consultancies pushing these CBTC systems.

Either way, better than the old way (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208604)

The current systems running most of the subway lines are the ORIGINAL systems.

As in installed in 1932 or earlier.

A recent fire in a control room severely disrupted service on 1-2 subway lines, and they are *still* not returned to "normal" service and likely never will be because the damaged systems were so ancient that there is no way to fully repair them.

Unfortunately, upgrading the system is a real bitch because upgrades mean downtime, and downtime is basically not an option for the MTA.

The issue was recently covered in more depth in the latest issue of the IEEE Spectrum.

As anyone that lives in New York can tell you... (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208606)

The L line is terrible. I have friends that live on it in Brooklyn, and they frequently can't into Manhattan on the week-ends, since that line is really the only way in or out (there is a bus, but it's SLOOOOWWWW). I predict that this is just going to lead to more troubles.

On the other hand, maybe all the hipsters in Williamsburg will just stay there...

Hack the subways... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208607)

...and if the person that hacked it causes problems, if they are found, will probably be charged with terrorism. Probably be charged with terrorism for just trying to hack it. Not that I mind, trying to f*ck with mass transit where lives might be at stake, is just plain stupid for anyone that doesn't want to be charged with negligent homicide or worse.

DON'T DO IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208638)

S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse A persona che mai tornasse al mondo, Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero, Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question... Oh, do not ask, `` What is it? '' Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening. Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains. Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys. Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me. And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time To wonder, ``Do I dare?'' and, ``Do I dare?'' Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair-- [They will say: ``How his hair is growing thin!''] My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin-- [They will say: ``But how his arms and legs are thin!''] Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all-- The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all-- Arms that are braceleted and white and bare [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!] Is it perfume from a dress That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep. . . tired . . . or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet--and here's no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question, To say: `` I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all''-- If one, settling a pillow by her head, Should say: ``That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.''

And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor-- And this, and so much more?-- It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow, or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: ``That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.''

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a pAlmost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

rogress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous-- me.

Computerised lines cause train crashes (2, Interesting)

gruenz (613879) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208645)

I would like to point out that in Moscow subway system, a fully computerised line (grey line) was introduced in early 80's. The rest of the subway stayed with proper drivers. In early 90's there were two crashes (within several months of each other) on the computerised line. The reason was that due to technical problems one train stopped, and the train behind it slammed into it. The curious thing is that the traffic lights in the tunnels correctly lighted red (since they are redundant, in case of such emergency to display red just behind the train), but the computerised train (without a driver) carried on. If the driver was there to stop it, it wouldn't have happenned. I beleive that grey line is still the only one that is computerised and they have drivers on every other line. For more information on Moscow Metro see photos here: Metro map [beeflowers.com] Cheers, Alex.

Hopefully, AOL won't have a hand in the software. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208653)

"You've Got Rail" every 100 feet would be kind of annoying.

Bay Area computerized trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12208686)

I think both BART and MUNI's driver control panel basically consist of "Stop" and "Go", and that seems to work well enough. What's with all the scaremongering about hackers?

The L train Is a Disaster (3, Interesting)

Brendor (208073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208702)

First of all this program hasn't started full time yet. I live near Graham Ave, 3 stops from Manhattan and weekday mornings the city-bound commute can be very crowded. On busy days I have to wait for a 2nd or third train before I can squeeze myself into the last available spot near the door farthest from the turnstile. On these days people at the Bedford stop, the last before Manhattan (yeah, that [slashdot.org] Bedford) often have to wait for 4 or more cars before they can get on the train. I think its great the MTA thinks it can pack more trains closer together, but I'll believe it when I see it.

This morning I had one of the most peaceful commutes in quite a while. I attribute it fully to the conductor, urging us at every stop to "Step aside, let others off before you get on. If you can't fit on the train there is another train right behind this one."

The new system will not do this.

Even if it works flawlessly, many will still resent it for a long time. The installation phase has been shutting down sections of the line for 3 years every weekend, often for months at a time. It was pretty annoying to have to wait in a station for 35 minutes because only one train is running, only to see an empty car go by you on the" closed" track, carrying a few engineers with 15" powerbooks and some other random equipment.

Underwhelmed. Nuremberg goes driverless. (5, Informative)

alphorn (667624) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208707)

Nuremberg will introduce a completely driverless subway next year. Good article with lots of pictures. See (partially English) PDF [siemens.at]
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