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In the railway sector, the maintenance of tracks, sleepers and gravel beds, the design and construction of extension works and the monitoring of the condition of railway bridges, among many other tasks, include safeguarding the continuous operation of rail traffic. The effective and frequent calculation and mapping of railway trajectories and their surroundings includes all these tasks.
In addition to being costly in the long term, conventional methods of manual ground surveys are slow, time-consuming, dangerous and conflict with train timetables, causing delays and frustrated travellers. Aerial surveillance using UAVs is an alternative geo data acquisition technology that does not conflict with railway operations.
The railway drone applications include the preparation of contour maps of the area where new railway lines are planned, 3D visualisation station models and 3D terrain models to draw up detailed plans. GIS mapped data can be used to measure the track length and build 3D models to help project managers identify possible risks to construction.
Drones may also be used for periodic asset evaluation, inspection of hard-to – reach areas such as bridges and tunnels, monitoring of electrical work along railway track lengths, as well as corrosion and cracks or fractures inspection. In the event of natural calamities, drones may be used as first responders by rapidly evaluating harm to the railway network and supplying emergency workers with essential insights.
Aerial data acquisition by Casca’s sensor-equipped drones will reduce railway projects’ capital costs by 12 percent and maintenance by 17 percent. Casca drones have been integrated with the disaster management system of Indian Railways Accident Relief Trains (ART). To deter burglary, vandalism and pilferage, the Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF) uses drones for day and night surveillance of warehouses, yards and tracks.
For project progress tracking, Casca’s drones are used to ensure transparency and improved performance. They are also used frequently to inspect rail infrastructure such as bridges, OHE, rooftops and inaccessible rail infrastructure without jeopardising lives while preventing downtime and blocks.
The main difficulty in the inspection process was lack of automation scalability and repeatability
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- Track Ballast
- Rail Sleeper (railroad ties, railway ties or crossties)
- Rail Fish Plate (fish bolt, rail joint bar, splice bar)
- Rail Fasteners,
- Straight and Curved Switches
Benefits of Using Drones in the Railroad Industry
drones for railway inspections has numerous benefits that can quickly become cost multipliers for any organization.The ability of flying drones over railways is also a savings to the overall effort in terms of time.Drones for railways can also provide high-resolution data in a very timely manner.
Utilizing drones for railway inspections has numerous benefits that can quickly become cost multipliers for any organization. One of the most important benefits realized is safety. Because trains are scheduled daily along most railways, placing a human on the track in a specially equipped vehicle can be as dangerous as playing Russian Roulette. The precautions necessary to ensure safety can be mitigated by using drones.
The ability of flying drones over railways is also a savings to the overall effort in terms of time, as the drone can collect more than one railway at once, performing the task fully autonomously without human intervention. And as the drone ascends to higher altitudes, multiple tracks (up to three or four at a time) can be easily collected simultaneously. This scenario creates a portable, repeatable, and efficient method for data collection.
Drones for railways can also provide high-resolution data in a very timely manner. Once the drone data is modeled, other techniques can be applied to detect anomalies using change detection or in some cases even artificial intelligence. The end-product using these collection parameters produces a fully modeled (3D) product that maintains a GSD (Ground Sample Distance) of 2.13 mm (0.007 ft) with a relative accuracy of around 4mm .