• Robotic track inspections

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by SouthernRailway
Not being familiar with how railroads conduct track inspections, I came across this: a small robotic track inspector:


I'm curious as to what the experienced railroaders on this board think of it. I have NO connection with the company- I am NOT an investor, employee, PR person, director, officer, consultant or anything else; I am just curious.

  by Freddy
I'd have liked to have seen a video of it in use and an actual physical address for the company. Also maybe some comments from anybody who has already used it. My take on it is this. If you
and another person have to go out, unload, set it up, get track time and then wait at the other end of the segment it's inspecting for it's arrival then in that amount of time you could have made the inspection yourself and possibly seen the dam that beavers built that had water built up which would've cause a washout.
  by RussNelson
Whomever they are, they obviously have not yet been able to afford a rotomolded plastic or even fiberglass shell mold. Interesting, too, that they haven't bothered to update the copyright on their website even though 2013 is nearly half over. Also interesting that they show exactly *one* device -- and that all the other views are 3-D renderings.

Cute trick that it can go either way through a switch, and can go through a misaligned switch. I like that.

The big hoses going to little boxes makes me think "hydraulic motors", which likely means that it's gasoline-powered. I wonder what its range is (they don't say). I wonder what its top speed is (they don't say -- what if it has to clear track for a through train?) I wonder what its inspection speed is (they don't say).

Interesting that they don't sell them, but instead sell you the service. Their website first showed up on April 9, 2009, and look at the concept then! http://web.archive.org/web/200904090345 ... l-pod.com/ It was to be a passenger vehicle which rides on just one rail! Here are some interesting links:

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/ ... small.html
http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/06/the- ... re-of-tra/
http://www.cafepress.com/railpod (you can buy a railpod t-shirt!)
  by scharnhorst
a Search on YouTube comes up with videos coming from people in India and no footage of any real equipment that has been developed.
  by RussNelson
Yeah, I'd love to see this puppy go "the wrong way" through a switch. It must raise and lower its flanged wheels in opposition to the points.
  by Freddy
After we did these postings the other day I got to thinking how this machine is not worth the trouble because even if a condition is found, somebody still has to go back in and fix whatever is wrong and it's no good for actual inspection because the FRA requires a qualified person to sign off on the inspection report.
  by scharnhorst
This would not practical on a large railroad unless they were maybe testing yard tracks with it. Something like this might be good if used in side an Industrial park or on a short line with less than 10 miles of track where an inspector could follow it with a hi-rail.
  by SouthernRailway
Thanks. What if the robot did only a few things, such as an inspection of track geometry; is there anything that it could be useful for?
  by Freddy
SouthernRailway wrote:Thanks. What if the robot did only a few things, such as an inspection of track geometry; is there anything that it could be useful for?
In all honesty I don't see any use for it. It doesn't really do anything. A spike puller machine pulls spikes, tie plug machine plugs ties, anchor machine puts on anchors. All these machines
have operators. With this inspection machine, it's operator can see and do the same thing with one exception, he can repair whatever defect is found. The machine can't.