Rail service improvements and disruptions

11.01.19

Engineers able to predict and fix track faults before they develop using new Costain augmented reality tech

Engineers will be able to use augmented reality (AR) to predict failing components and faults on train tracks and in stations after engineering companies, in collaboration with a university, have developed a network of Internet of Things (IoT).

Costain and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have developed the system with project lead engineering start-up Enable My Team (EMT).

The system will allow engineers to use AR via a smartphone or a head-mounted display to locate failing components or structure faults and read on-screen instructions in real time to help them with repairs.

The IoT network sensors will initially be installed at London Bridge station this year as a test site, gathering data on tracks and station facilities such as barriers, lighting, and ventilation.

The system will then use artificial intelligence techniques to analyse the data and predict when a fault is likely to occur, highlighting any stress points or component failures on a 3D virtual model of the station and tracks.

The project is set for completion in April 2020, and after the technology has been tested at five other UK stations the scheme will be rolled out in 2021.

Lukumon Oyedele, principal investigator on the project at UWE Bristol, said the IoT system will enable companies to fix faults before they become problems and at a time when services are not disrupted.

This will help vastly reduce the “hundreds of hours lost through train delays” every day often caused by faulty signal boxes and broken tracks.

Sandeep Jain, the founder & CEO at Enable My Team (EMT), said: “i-RAMP could bring reliability to the 1.7 billion annual passenger journeys on the UK railway, increasing productivity across the country. With machine learning and big data processing we can predict problematic vegetation, damaged structures and faulty signals, allowing repairs to be implemented before issues arise.”

The sensors will be able to transmit a variety of data including vibration and strain or pressure on structures as well as humidity and temperature data, and the AR technology will enable the engineers to locate the fault and provide guidance on how to fix it.

Image credit - mbbirdy

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