Absolutely! Drones continue to be employed in all areas of our daily lives; railways are not an exception. The low operational cost of drones make it an attractive alternative compared to manned aircraft and lesser capable ground sensors to conduct daily maintenance runs, inspections, surveillance and reconnaissance.
As part of normal business operations railway companies are required to conduct routine inspections of large distances of rail tracks. Drones are capable of accomplishing the task with ease, efficiency and great accuracy. These high tech airborne systems, coupled with a powerful analytic tool, such as the Video Indexing Recording System (VIRS) and other analytical tools, make it the best option to operators. Unmanned aircraft working autonomously or controlled by a pilot provide long range surveillance, endurance, and real-time/High Definition Video downlinks, making them a logical solution to what once was a long, tedious and expensive operation.
The use of Video Analytics provide a trained operator the capability to identify inconsistencies, obstructions, track wear indications, and other potential problems. During extreme weather conditions, drones provide continuously monitoring and reporting of areas where the track could be compromised by landslides and avalanches. While video analytics provide a great capability, this can be further enhanced by the addition of the VIRS that catalogues information in a way that can be used for real-time or historical analysis of the video and create time-lapse studies of the condition of the railways and its surroundings. All these tools and capabilities, coupled with a capable, well-trained operator will ensure a safe railroad service operation.
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Author: Jaime Vila @JTI_JVila (Twitter)
Jaime Vila is the General Manager for JohnsTek LATAM.