This project applies commercial remote sensing and spatial information (CRS&SI) technologies to the public transportation focus area of the RITA CRS&SI program. The proposed system(see Figure 1) integrates Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), laser, GIS, and GPS to automatically collect and georeference surface and/or subsurface data for rail, concrete ties, fastening systems, and ballast.
Figure 1 Integrated Automated Rail Inspection System
Advanced algorithms and software tools will be developed to interpret the data and to identify rail infrastructure surface and subsurface defects and safety hazards, such as broken ties, missing bolts, fouled ballast, and wide rail gauge. Also, a WebGIS-based decision support system with user-friendly interface will be developed to help rail transit employees with no GPR and laser background to utilize the data. Rail transit agencies in the U.S. rely heavily on visual observation for track inspections. This manual method is time-consuming, costly, and unsafe and cannot effectively identify subsurface safety hazards. With the aging rail infrastructure, this proposed system is expected to substantially benefit the rail transit industry by improving the track inspection efficiency, accuracy (e.g., both surface and subsurface defects), and safety of both the rail transit systems and track workers.