Vision System Tracks Trouble with Trains

Many machine-vision systems operate under controlled environments in factory settings. However, designers of systems for the transportation industry are faced with bigger challenges: These systems must capture images of vehicles traveling at different speeds in varying weather conditions and over wide temperature ranges.

Developing transportation imaging systems requires extensive modification of off-the-shelf components such as cameras and lighting. Custom heating, cooling, and cleaning systems must be created to enable reliable operation of the vision system over long periods of time in harsh outdoor environments. Custom software is also needed for each application because existing libraries of image-processing software fail to deliver the necessary performance.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the design of automatic wayside inspection systems for the railroad industry. Working in harsh, remote environments, these systems must inspect mechanical components found on the rolling stock of freight and passenger trains. This allows them to assess the trains’ safety and alert operators of any maintenance that might be required.

Based on its experience developing a number of individual custom systems to inspect train wheels, brakes, couplers, ladders, and handholds on the sides of freight trains, Beena Vision Systems has introduced a train inspection system called TrainView to examine multiple train components.

The hardware and software of each TrainView system are customized to meet the needs of both the railroad operator and the environment in which it must operate. One such TrainView system comprises a number of cameras from Teledyne DALSA and Basler placed between the tracks of the railroad and supported on two upright sections of a tower and on a horizontal crossbeam between the two that spans the width of the track. In doing so, the system can capture images of over 160 key components underneath the train, on its sides and roof.

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