Drones

Track-inspection drone rides the rails, and flies away from trains

Track-inspection drone rides t...
Along with recording railway data, the Staaker BG-300 can also transmit it live to administrators
Along with recording railway data, the Staaker BG-300 can also transmit it live to administrators
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Along with recording railway data, the Staaker BG-300 can also transmit it live to administrators
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Along with recording railway data, the Staaker BG-300 can also transmit it live to administrators

Although the inspection of railway tracks is a very important task, such inspections typically have to be performed when no trains are anywhere nearby. The new rail-riding Staaker BG-300 Railway Drone offers an alternative, as it just flies off the tracks when trains approach.

Manufactured by Norwegian company Nordic Unmanned, the BG-300 is a fuel-cell-powered multicopter drone that also packs a set of four motorized rail wheels. Utilizing those, it can cruise along a rail line at an average speed of 20 km/h (12 mph), reportedly travelling up to 200 km (124 miles) at a time.

As it does so, it inspects the tracks utilizing cameras and "other sensors," plus it can lubricate rail switches if required. Importantly, though, if it encounters any other rail traffic, it will autonomously fly up off the tracks in order to get out of the way until that traffic passes. It can also use this functionality to move from one track to another.

As a result, stretches of rail lines do not have to be closed to trains while inspections are being performed. Such is not the case with traditionally used inspection vehicles, such as trolleys or rail-wheel-equipped trucks.

According to Nordic Unmanned, the BG-300 was developed in partnership with "a large European national railway infrastructure owner." The drone should begin commercial service in Europe as of the first half of next year.

You can see it in action, in the video below.

Nordic Unmanned Introduces the Staaker Railway Robot!

Source: Nordic Unmanned

5 comments
5 comments
akarp
This is clever for other uses too. An expensive piece of inspection equipment (or whatever) can just take off and perch some where unreachable...say if someone tries to get too close.
Bob Flint
Why not simply have some trains run with this onboard, and include the underlying foundation evaluation as the trains pass with high speed cameras & various sensors stations along the way maybe at switch points to log & track the action in real time?

Inspecting with little or no weight on the rails is superficial at best.
freddotu
@akarp, I'd hope there is some anti-vandalism system built into the device. It would be amazing to see something like this pass at a crossing, but I suppose it would also have to elevate over those locations, unless gate triggering systems are also incorporated. Soon the Tube will be populated with gate-runners crashing into autonomous flying inspection devices.
vbillc
Hope it's got good collision avoidance for overhead catenary, signalling equipment etc. and enough AI to work out what to do in tunnels and under bridges
DavidIngram
No one is going to turn something like this loose without someone live monitoring. There are too many issues. It might be better to put the wheels and sensors on a small manned two blade helicopter that already has a power source.