Enhancing railway infrastructure management with RTLS and anti-collision technology
As a key player in the MOMIT (Multi-scale Observation and Monitoring of Infrastructure Threats) Project, Terabee is demonstrating how drone technology and remote sensing can transform infrastructure management across railway networks.
The European-wide MOMIT Project was established to demonstrate the benefits of remote sensing in the inspection and monitoring of railway networks. This spans both the infrastructure and its surrounding environment, where activities and phenomena with potential impact could be present. Harnessing state-of-the-art technologies in the fields of ICT plus space-based and RPAS-based sensing, MOMIT enables new approaches to inspection and analysis – paving the way for numerous, new application possibilities.
WHAT ARE THE KEY RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES?
The type of outdoor inspections that need to be undertaken when managing infrastructure are diverse – from the structural integrity of a railway bridge to the stability of the landscape surrounding the tracks. This critical work typically requires up-close inspection by structural engineers or the rental of highly specialized machinery. Steps which are not only time-consuming but costly too. On top of this, of course, are the safety considerations that must be observed as a consequence of human involvement in hazardous environments.
HOW DOES DRONE INSPECTION WORK?
Terabee has developed an innovative, time-saving and safer drone-based solution incorporating both RTLS (Real Time Location System) for accurate drone positioning, and Anti-Collision Technology. Using this approach, inspections can be split into two distinct stages:
· A drone flight operator gathers the relevant data on the structure or environment
· A structural engineer then analyzes the data post-mission
Not only does this mean there is no on-site human inspection required, it also means that structural engineers are involved only at the critical stages in which they are needed, since the gathering of all relevant data can be carried out by the drone pilot.
Harnessing both RTLS technology and the drone’s GPS system enables a highly accurate drone position to be determined and this data can then be used to create a detailed 3D model where, for example, structural damage can be assessed. And, as the solution also features our TeraRanger Tower Evo anti-collision system, even close proximity flights can be undertaken with minimal risk.
HOW TERABEE TECHNOLOGY HELPS OPTIMIZE COSTS AND PRESERVE EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT
Unlike existing solutions, drone pilots do not need structural engineering qualifications to carry out the work – whether analyzing bridges or facilities such as water plants, tunnels and sewers. They simply navigate the drone around the structure and all the relevant drone positioning and structural analysis raw data is sent for processing by a structural engineer. Since the structural engineer is not required on-site, this analysis can be undertaken from any location around the world.
The TeraRanger Tower Evo technology provides enhanced anti-collision capabilities for additional peace of mind. This solid-state LiDAR system incorporates eight compact, lightweight sensors to provide full perimeter coverage and is fully compatible with Pixhawk, the world’s most popular flight controller. We recommend you watch our video tutorial to better understand how to connect TeraRanger Tower Evo to the different types of Pixhawks on the market.
PROVING THE CONCEPT: THE NEW TECHNOLOGY IN PRACTICE
A number of drone missions were carried out in France in April 2019, with structural engineers tasked with analyzing the gathered data in Spain, a few months later. This clearly demonstrated how the two distinct roles could be effectively split, utilizing the specific skill sets of the drone pilots and structural engineers in the most efficient manner.
The resultant savings are impressive: four less man-days required, and travel expenses significantly cut with structural engineers not needed on-site. It also showed that detailed analysis can be easily passed to the world’s most talented structural engineers – irrespective of their location. Furthermore, the two-stage process makes inspections easier to plan. As structural engineers are no longer involved at the earliest stages, there is no prior coordination required that might need planning and rearranging should unfavorable weather conditions cause drone flight postponements.
All of the drone missions were undertaken harnessing Terabee RTLS technology, the TeraRanger Tower Evo anti-collision system and additional measuring equipment. With all its technology on board, the market value of the drone exceeded sixty thousand euros – a good incentive to minimize the risk of crashing the drone! We’re delighted to report that the drone performed its duties without incident and carried out inspections at a closer proximity than previous drone systems, leading to enhanced inspection data quality.
If you are interested in our drone anti-collision systems, please read more about TeraRanger Tower Evo. And if you need fast, accurate positioning systems and solutions for GPS-denied environments:
Terabee has performed years of joint projects with CERN on leading-edge physics for sensor-based solutions and is the first company supported by Innogex, the French Business Incubation Centre of CERN Technologies.
This company has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 850014
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