Sensors that improve rail transport safety

A new kind of human-machine communication is to make it possible to detect damage to rail vehicles before it’s too late. The technology also leads to an improvement in the servicing of trains, providing it only when needed. The technology relies on a cloud-supported, wireless network of sensors.

train running on damaged wheels could easily be heading for serious trouble. This is why German national rail corporation Deutsche Bahn continuously monitors the wheelsets of its intercity express trains — a process that costs a considerable amount of time and money. Researchers at the Berlin-based Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM are collaborating with industry partners to develop a solution that ensures a great safety while reducing effort and cost. “We want to root out any damage early on and move away from maintenance at set intervals in favor of condition-based maintenance,” explains Dr. Michael Niedermayer, microsystems engineer and head of the IZM’s Technology-Oriented Design Methods working group.

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