Between 2008 and 2014 Transnet Freight Rail incurred annual financial impacts averaging Rand 434m ($US 35.3m) a year as a result of collisions, derailments, level crossing accidents and people struck by trains. In response to these diverse safety challenges, the Mechatronics and Micro-Manufacturing division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed an autonomous rail vehicle to reduce the risk of collisions and inspect infrastructure for defects that could ultimately lead to derailments.
The Survey Inspection Device (Sid) was initially conceived as a locomotive-mounted unit, but subsequently developed into an autonomous vehicle to minimise stopping distances. Sid is designed to run 1-2km ahead of a train, relaying images to the cab of the locomotive. If an obstacle is detected, Sid notifies the driver with live video feedback.
Sid can also warn motorists at level crossings of the approaching train. The device waits in the middle of the crossing until the train is in sight of the road vehicle, before accelerating quickly away. Visual recording systems onboard record all activity outside the device while high-intensity warning lights and a voice communication system warn road users to stop.
Read the full article at Rail Journal.