Freight train transportation just got smarter: GE Transportation and Intel Corp. partnered to build a “superbrain” platform solution that will make locomotives smarter and faster. The technology, announced Monday at InnoTrans 2016, effectively turns trains into mobile data centers.

The trains will run using the GoLINC network, communication, and application management platform. This mobile data center provides processing, wireless communication, data storage, and video capabilities. It works with the train and outside vendors to display and transfer data, in a process compatible with Predix, GE’s industrial operation system.

“This platform enhancement to the GoLINC mobile data center saves time and lowers costs by reducing the amount of data transferred over cellular connections, and will enable the rail industry to perform at its best,” said Val Stoyanov, general manager of global transportation at Intel, in a press release.

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GoLINC is currently used on more than 6,000 trains. With this update, trains will have better data management and video analytics. It also leaves room to add more software to the platform later on.

The platform operates with a 6th Gen Intel Core i7 processor. This technology will “improve operations, fuel efficiency, horsepower and emissions, and enhance a locomotive’s tractive effort,” according to a press release.

“Our partnership delivers the most advanced connectivity across the rail industry to create a smarter rail ecosystem,” said Jamie Miller, GE transportation president and CEO. “It enables operators to transfer data, host applications and interface with third-party systems, and can boost operational productivity.”

According to GE, GoLINC’s key features include:

  • Design flexibility. GoLINC offers modular, flexible and redundant design, available in multiple sizes and module configurations
  • Application modules. These host existing or new business applications, and provide a common networking, communications, and control platform for railroad business applications and communications
  • Multiple cell and Wi-Fi configurations. GoLINC includes LTE, EV-DO, HSPA, 802.11a/b/g/n, LTE/4G wireless capability, and dual Wi-Fi plus integrated GPS
  • Large storage. The system offers up to 8TB of network storage
  • Connections. GoLINC will connect all devices on the network
  • Simple web interface. GoLINC’s user interface provides the user with the ability to navigate and manage any configuration
  • Durability. GoLINC is able to survive even when the trains are passing through harshest environments.
  • Ability to interface with Locomotive Data Acquisition Recording System (LDARS). LDARS features a crash-hardened memory system, to protect data in the event of an accident.

GE Transportation began working on smart trains in 2014, with a set of software solutions. The company plans to continue developing new smart train capabilities in order to “extend locomotive life, lower fuel consumption, decrease emissions, increase velocity and improve operating ratios,” according to the press release.

GE’s 21,000 locomotives, located in more than 50 countries worldwide, will all eventually connect using Predix.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. On Monday, GE Transportation and Intel Corp. unveiled a “superbrain” platform solution that turns freight trains into mobile data centers.
  2. These smart trains will operate with the GoLINC platform, which provides processing, wireless communication, data storage, and video capacity.
  3. GE and Intel representatives said that the platform will improve operations, fuel efficiency, and horsepower.