Artificial Intelligence (AI) now makes the headlines nearly every day; AI-enabled automated translation, face recognition that have become part of everyday life and speculations on a future mankind “dominated by AI”. Various more or less frightening futuristic scenarios are no longer confined to sensationalist tabloids but invade the mainstream media.
The goal of this lecture is, more modestly, to take a sober look at what AI can or cannot do for industry today, and what future perspectives might be, by taking as an example an activity that goes back to the 19th century but is being metamorphosed by the ‘digital revolution’: the operation and maintenance of railways. Pierre Dersin will give a brief historical overview and talk about how railway systems, and more generally ground transport systems, can benefit from AI to remain attractive and competitive, particular in operation and maintenance. He will argue that a close cooperation between industry and academia is a necessary condition to overcome the challenges that we are facing.