New tech developed to keep railways on right track

New device monitors the condition of the tracks while train is moving

EDINBURGH-based Machines With Vision has teamed up with product development specialists Wideblue to develop new sophisticated technology which helps railways monitor the condition of tracks in a more efficient way.

The solution is 100 times more accurate than GPS and can work in difficult environments such as tunnels.  It uses train-mounted cameras and sensors to build a map of the ground beneath the train offering precise data as to the train’s location; the system can capture and process images at up to 200km/hr to millimetre accuracy.  Complex algorithms and machine learning are then used to analyse the data collected.  The benefit for the railways is an inexpensive and efficient way of collecting data to optimise maintenance. 

However, one hurdle they had to overcome was gaining EMC compliance and rail regulatory approval for the prototype product. For help they turned to Glasgow-based product development firm Wideblue.  Wideblue implemented a redesign of a key aspect of the system based on results from internal investigation and exploratory testing.  Support was also provided for the subsequent re-testing, enabling the product to be certified for full regulatory compliance. 

Mark Sansom, project manager at Wideblue said: “It was vital that Machines with Vision’s equipment did not interfere with other systems on the train.  Following investigations into some malfunctions and identifying the root cause, we redesigned the core power supply of the system to make it compliant with railway regulatory standards for electromagnetic emissions and immunity.   Some mechanical modifications were also undertaken to accommodate the new power supply design and ensure a robust solution was delivered to Machines With Vision.” 

Machines With Vision co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Tim Lukins, added: “It has been good experience working with the team at Wideblue.  We are not experts in the EMC compliance rules, so it was great having a partner with a detailed understanding of the regulations, product design and electronics to resolve the issue.”

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