Railroad tracks reach the metaverse. Renfe seeks to become the first European operator to explore the possibilities of a metaverse dedicated to mobility, for which it will allocate one million euros (€1,087,768.50) to the search for innovative solutions that can be developed in the new virtual world and that can be applied in your transportation model.
If up to now the different metaverse experiences developed by Meta (Facebook) or Decentraland have made it possible to create virtual travel experiences or be present at events without leaving home, the idea of a public company involves finding companies and ideas that can be applied to its business model and supports its conversion into a comprehensive mobility operator.
Renfe has set itself the goal of finding the first projects and cases that can be applied to transport, so that it can examine its potential and seek a balance between the potentialities of the virtual and the real world. To attract interested parties, the operator has proposed several solution ideas that could become future challenges.
Among them is the creation of virtual environments that simulate railway stations and trains (something that already exists on a smaller scale in video games), developing communication and collaboration tools in real time that allow users to interact with each other and with the operator; or other types of solutions that improve the experience of travelers.
Designed under the project competition formula, Renfe aspires to attract startups and national and international companies for its acceleration, with a view to contracting them a posteriori. On the first face, any interested party may send their request for participation in which they must include the solution they propose for the challenge launched. Once evaluated, the five ideas with the best will be invited to present their projects.
A jury will be in charge of confirming whether the objective of the challenge is met, whether the solution is applicable to Renfe, its degree of innovation and the quality of the proposal. The projects will also be evaluated by their ability to be scalable, by their degree of maturity, by the experience and participation of the team or their financial viability.
The winner will receive 50,000 euros and a personalized acceleration plan, supported by the Trenlab program. If the results convince the company, it will be able to hire the winner to deploy its project the following year for a maximum amount of 1 million euros.
Virtual reality for train drivers
Similarly, the operator has launched a second project competition to find solutions based on virtual reality or digitization of real environments that allow for better training of its driving staff. Those who aspire to be machinists today do so through the corresponding training course at one of the 13 authorized schools, but once they pass it and are hired, they receive specific training on their job.
In the case of Renfe, the training of its driving staff exceeds the figure of 35,500 hours each year. Now they seek to go beyond simulators, whose environment is “limited” and teaching on the road, which has a high economic cost. Thus, it tries to find a virtual reality tool that digitizes real infrastructures and driving vehicles to train situations and provide its staff with the necessary skills.
“Traffic safety is one of the fundamental pillars in a company like Renfe, so safety training for driving personnel is essential and necessary,” defends the company. The launched contest is developed with the same dynamics as the metaverse one, it has the same budget and in case a winning project is found, it would also be contracted later.