Mapping and inspecting railroads is still a prolonged and expensive task to perform. In the past few years, we have seen different solutions emerge that might help speed up those processes, such as the use of drones. But what if it could be simpler than that?
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s (MTS) rail division, which surveils 106 miles of track, found a new solution for performing track data collection, inspections, maintenance, and even training more efficiently.
MTS is using Roadview Workstation, software developed by Mandli Communications that is similar to Google’s Street View. MTS Enterprise Business Solutions Manager Robert Borowski saw an opportunity to use the same technology on railroads after seeing Mandli use the software, along with a vehicle-mounted sensor solution, to monitor road conditions. MTS then hired Mandli Communications to help them achieve this.
The rail division used a front-mounted camera on a light rail vehicle that travels on all three San Diego MTS’ tracks. From this information, they processed a panorama of stitched images covering the entire 106 miles of track.
As for benefits, their capture solution features a GPS system, which makes it easier to detect when and where to replace items. The Roadview software also helps with training programs.
“Roadview is a perfect element for the train operator training program,” MTS Rail Training Supervisor Dave Jensen said in an interview with Metro-Magazine, “We are just getting into the process of using it. It shows students all the intricacies of the system through a new lens. We can visually show students about defensive driving, what to look for in tough intersections, speed limits through certain areas, and much more. And, do it all from the classroom setting.”
Permit requests for applicants who want to enter MTS property are also easier to handle, as Roadview fills in the gaps in coverage left by systems like Google’s Street View.
MTS has used the system twice, and plans on using it periodically to recapture significant changes. It will run Roadview again by 2021 once the Mid-Coast Trolley (Blue Line) extension is complete.