HackTrain 5.0: Veea Systems, Angel Trains Partner to Showcase Edge Computing in Rail


Veea Systems, the company delivering business-ready solutions at the network edge, has detailed its contribution at the HackTrain 5.0 event.

Working in partnership with Angel Trains, one of Britain’s leading train leasing companies, Veea Systems demonstrated the potential of innovative edge computing solutions using the SmartRail VeeaHub platform.

Held in October this year, HackTrain is an annual rail hackathon organised by Hack Partners. The event takes place on board moving trains over a 48-hour period, covering up to 2000km and spanning three countries.

The SmartRail VeeaHub – an on-board Edge Computing and mesh Wi-Fi platform for trains – was used by many of the participants to develop a range of innovative Internet of Things (IoT), messaging and entertainment applications and services.

This year the initiative involved over 80 entrepreneurs, designers and developers. The concept Edge applications developed during the event included:

· Cool Edge

· A local IoT solution for optimising a train’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems based on actual demand using CO2 and temperature sensors

· Currently a train’s fresh air supply assumes a reasonably full train, which is expensive as the HVAC system must reduce fresh air to the dew point to dehumidify it, then heat it up again

· By using Edge Computing, rail operators can reduce energy use and save money as well as increase passenger comfort

· Concierge

· A locally hosted chatbot, containing information on train schedules, weather etc

· This would allow passengers to access this information on their mobile devices using an intuitive chat interface even when there is no mobile coverage

· GameTrain

· A platform enabling local multiplayer gaming on board trains, with both chat and leaderboard functionality, all operating without the need to download anything onto individual passenger devices

· This concept could also allow users to challenge their fellow commuters to help pass the time on journeys

· Platform C ¾

· A local messaging application to allow passengers to be able to contact members of staff at all times directly from their devices over the local Wi-Fi network

· Services could include everything from requesting accessibility support, to ordering drinks and food from the trolley

In future the companies will present the apps developed at the event to key industry partners. It is hoped that the most popular will be supported through commercial development.

The VeeaHub SmartRail solution used was the same selected by the UK DfT and InnovateUK for grant funding to demonstrate an onboard edge computing solution with Angel Trains earlier in 2018. The ongoing joint project, part of the wider £3.5M DfT programme, ‘First of a Kind: Demonstrating Tomorrow’s Trains Today,’ utilizes the VeeaHub to deliver a wide variety of applications for train operators and passengers.

Angel Trains has been a long-term sponsor of the HackTrain events, which it supports both to drive innovation within the rail industry and as a means to influence R&D priorities and assess what technologies are on the horizon to help solve real-world challenges faced in the sector. This year, the company’s challenge was around ‘fog computing’, tasking participants to come up with the best applications that operate locally on edge computers deployed on trains, rather than relying on external connectivity.

Angel Trains’ CEO Kevin Tribley commented that: “Angel Trains is delighted to return as sponsor of HackTrain 5.0. We are proud to be collaborating with industry partners to identify innovative ways to modernise the railway.”

“As one of the largest investors in UK rail, we strongly believe investing in digital solutions is crucial to improving passenger experience. We want passengers to be able to get the same level of digital service while travelling as they would expect in a modern smart home, and to be able to do so anywhere in the country, regardless of external connectivity.”

“This year we challenged participants to create applications that will run locally on the train, on a ‘fog computing network’, rather than in the cloud.”

Alan E. Jones, CEO of Veea Systems said: “Our Edge solutions have been designed with open interfaces specifically to encourage application development by third parties and foster a wider ecosystem to build upon the foundation of connectivity.”

“The potential for applications which can improve operational efficiency and passenger experience is huge, and only limited by developers’ imaginations. It’s been fantastic to see so many creative proposals put forward at HackTrain, with developers seeking to create applications that can truly change the way we travel.”