New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

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richard_m
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New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by richard_m » Fri May 06, 2016 11:21 am

There's always been a demand for rail scanning, mainly because its marginally safer to scan from the track-side instead of putting prisms/gps etc ON the rails and you can theoretically collect a bunch of data relatively quickly. However, in reality the safety restrictions (and therefore costs) are hardly changed and scanning creates lots of new data processing issues.

Klever-er people than me have spent years working on developing a killer-app rail scanner, I moved into this field at the start of the year and I'm blown away, I thought I'd share with fellow scan-geeks "the next-gen shit" we're running as I'm not aware of anyone else rivalling this. We've been through various versions of rail-scanner, you could mount almost any mobile-mapper on a train with a bit of customisation and easily scan the track-area but the issue is always one of accuracy. Sure you could asset-map trackside furniture and cut-back lines of trees/bushes etc but you're not going to get the absolute accuracy or precision of the rail geometry which, frankly, is where the action is. Unless you spend years and millions inventing something like this..
railmap1.jpg
What we're looking at here is our buffer mounted rail-map system on a rented locomotive. This is a slightly early test setup. Out infront is a 360 camera, then 2x z+f 9012 Profilers. In the inverted Y shape below is a pair of RILA scanners, these fixed-sweep scanners cover a tiny footprint of 1 rail each and provide superb accuracy of the rail geometry (only). Hiding in the middle is a custom INS system and a pair of dGPS receivers. If you REALLY want the full-measure then we can also mount 4x GPR units underneath to measure sub-ground to automatically measure voids and ballast depth etc. Whole thing is monitored from a tablet in the cab and enables scanning at normal running speeds with zero safety-hassles, if the track is so congested its difficult to get a slot to run through then you could simply mount the scanner on an actual in-service train as it goes about its daily passenger runs. The hardware takes about 2 hours to mount and calibrate.

How cool's that? 8-)

As you'd imagine the back-end data processing has been as much of a challenge and the dev work here should not be underestimated, when you're running 1000km+ projects with this many sources of data running then automation is the only thing that will stop you drowning.. Again some clever people have spent the last few years swimming in fast flowing data to produce reliable, clean and QA assured deliverables. I'd never have thought it possible six months ago.

Please excuse the shameless-self-promotion but thats not really my intention and my input in this system is frankly zero. This is not a press-release from my employer and my views are my own only. Just thought this was some cool-stuff the scanning world might be interested in and thought I'd try to open-up a thread on the rapidly developing mobile and rail scanning as it's currently getting zero column inches here. Again, I'm not marketing Fugro but would like to open some conversation on this side of the scanning industry. I can't go into anything "sensitive" and there's much I'm too ignorant to even know but it would be good to see who's out there and I'll help where I can.

So who else is working on this?

Thoughts / questions?

Cheers

Richard
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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by danielgadowski » Fri May 06, 2016 8:50 pm

This is looking good.
Can you give out some stats?
What's the accuracy of the measured track?
What is the relative accuracy of the cloud to the track?
Is it possible to import a track geometry separate if no GPS can be used?
Cheers
Daniel

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by Rollo » Sat May 07, 2016 11:56 am

Hi Daniel

If your going to Geobusiness at the end of the month I will be doing a presentation with fugro on this system and its use on the HOTR program in Scotland. We have been verifying against traditional survey to assess accuracies, and using TMDs to verify track geometry prior to renewals. The NR 3101 standard has just been updated to include RILA with some new accuracy bands added. Worth a read.

We have seen some impressive results, when you take into consideration the speed of data capture. One interesting point is that track geometry is being measured under load, whereas traditional methods it is not, which leads to some discrepancies. You could argue measuring under load is better, as that is what the trains will experience when passing through, but quite difficult to replicate without a locomotive on hand!

If you have track geometry then there are tools available to attach a point cloud to the rail position. We have done this with our Pegasus system, and achieved good results. You just need to have the rail heads in the scan.

This is an interesting area at the moment.

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by Egan_irish » Sun May 08, 2016 6:50 am

Richard,

The system is looking great, and yes I have heard of the long days + nights the R&D team have worked on this. Do let them pop over if they now need some extra sun... I wish we had some railway lines to capture in Iraq :cry:

Enda

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by richard_m » Mon May 09, 2016 11:17 am

Hi Daniel,

I'd love to post some stats however pls remember this is an unnofficial post, I have to be very careful not to compromise any press releases or upcoming presentations.

Generally, in my opinion a system such as this can never replace a total station survey. Lets get that out of the way first. The accuracies achieveable are remarkeable but we're still measuring at 100km/h..

I think of this as something completely new, image being able to update the drawings / assets / conditions of an ENTIRE NETWORK every YEAR.

To my knowledge we've not yet been able to experiment with underground/metro lines and I'd say this could be an interesting exercise. Matching to a given centreline not a problem, also we have automated tools for analysing overhead lines and cover to trees / platforms etc but not yet Tunnel geometry / deformations, I'm sure you guys do and it might me interesting to see how these can work together.

Geobusiness is the place to learn more. Our team will be there and if you're interested in a dedicated meeting to discuss further pls PM me and I'll get something sorted. The scan-train itself is in-and-out of Paddington in the coming days/weeks, it may also be possible to setup an on-track (be aware HSE) demo but its kinda just some black-boxes and probably a bit pointless.

@ Rollo, hope the preparations are going well and best of luck.

@Enda, hi enda, no railway in Iraq? didn't know this.. maybe they're just covered with sand..

Richard

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by grahamhunter » Mon May 09, 2016 4:32 pm

Railway scanning is certainly becoming more common nowadays. I can provide some information on the RailMapper system (a variant of the StreetMapper MLS system). This has been deployed by our clients in USA, Germany, Australia and France. There is an interesting paper written by the team from SNCF who commissioned the work in France.

The project is described here:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/tr ... twork.html

And Pierre Assali has a link to a nice paper about their work on his page:
https://sites.google.com/site/pierreass ... blications
November 2013 - Presentation Best-Paper Award (young researcher) - Assali, P.;Viguier, F; Pollet, N., Contribution of Terrestrial Laser Scanning for monitoring and inspection of railway infrastructure , World Congress on Railway Research, Sydney, Australia

As you can see the system is raised up high to get a good view of the assets being monitored. This has a different objective to the Fugro system - which is down low to get an accurate measurement of the tracks.

Richard mentioned tunnel scanning from the rails. This has been pioneered by Terrametrix in the USA. They have a nice case study here:
SEPTA-Positive Train Control Base Mapping
http://www.terrametrix3d.com/#!projects/zcs0v
This was an airborne LiDAR project and the tunnels sections were filled in with the RailMapper.

And we will be at GeoBusiness too if anybody wants to know more.

Graham
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Founder & Director, GeoSLAM

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by richard_m » Fri May 13, 2016 2:19 pm

Hi Graham,

ah how times have changed (for the better) since we had adjacent 1 room offices at "Sherbrook Enterprise" in Daybrook :D

Thanks for the useful information.

Richard

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by pburrows145 » Fri May 13, 2016 2:50 pm

Anyone seen the new Si:Track One from Leica Geosystems in action? The software on the back-end of that solution is amazing, never seen auto-extraction tools like it... plus lovely crisp Pxx data as part of the deal! :)

http://leica-geosystems.com/products/mo ... sitrack_on

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Re: New Topic: NextGen Rail Scanning

Post by Egan_irish » Sun May 15, 2016 7:34 am

Richard,

There is of course a large railway network going through the country, older but working. But meant we don't have any work in Rail mapping - not our focus @ this moment ;) But the information is great and to see the different methods of capture.

I believe the software at the end is key in processing all the 'Big Data' that is captured after mapping Kilometers of rail networks. Have seen some very interesting Scripts from 3D Reshaper of auto-extraction of the rail-lines etc.

Enda

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