Train pantograph defect detection

October 1, 2021

Capturing pantographs at high speed

PRORAIL is responsible for maintaining the railway infrastructure in the Netherlands. In collaboration with the Dutch Railways (NS), PRORAIL launched a project for detecting damaged pantographs. A pantograph is a suspended apparatus mounted on the roof of a train to collect power through contact with the railway catenary lines. Damaged pantographs potentially lead to damaged catenary lines, which in turn, may lead to long delays and disruptions of the entire network.

APIXA was contracted to develop a 'lightweight' camera system that generates high-resolution images of passing pantographs. The innovative computer vision system is a stationary system positioned next to the railway. To detect wear and defects, an integrated hardware and software solution executes accurate surface imaging with synchronized infrared flashing. It is eye-safe and does not blind people.

AI-driven detection of pantograph damage

The AI-powered system digitally recognizes the pantographs while detecting and quantifying the level of potential damage present. The system, engineered by APIXA, captures crisp images of pantographs on trains, as they pass by at high speeds.

The solution, comprising of a hardware configuration and vision AI software, automatically adapts to varying weather and lighting conditions. It is a rugged and water-proof solution which transfers the acquired and processed data wirelessly. PRORAIL already deployed two test systems in the Netherlands.

Another article on this application in Dutch language, published by PRORAIL, can be retrieved here: Slimme camera voorkomt kostbare schade aan de bovenleiding

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