ATLANTA – Norfolk Southern announced it will be using “Digital Train Inspection Portals” in an effort to maintain and enhance rail safety.
In a news release, Norfolk Southern announced it will be using “Digital Train Inspection Portals” in an effort to maintain and enhance rail safety. These utilize “Machine Vision Inspection technology” that was “developed in partnership with the Georgia Tech Research Institution (GTRI), who engineered the hardware, and Norfolk Southern’s Data Science/Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Mechanical teams, who built the brains behind the program.”
This AI train inspection technology project seeks to support the safety infrastructure and inspection processes for Norfolk Southern. The Class I will deploy more than 12 by the end of next year. Currently, it has already helped “further national security and economic development.” The first portal was used in Leetonia, Ohio.
The portals are equipped “with an array of 24-megapixel trackside cameras and stadium lighting. Together, this Machine Vision Inspection technology captures ultra-high-resolution, 360-degree images of passing railcars.” Synced to the microsecond, these cameras can take up to 1,000 images per rail car as the train travels up to 70 mph. The cameras are “strategically placed at angles to capture things that are difficult to detect with the human eye during stationary inspections.” They also capture images while the train is “in a dynamic state”, and this creates the opportunity for an inspection that can’t be done while the train is stationary.
According to the report, AI then analyzes these images for potential defects. There are 38 advanced Deep Learning algorithms developed by NS’ in-house Data Science/AI team. These have provided “very low false-positives,”, and the AI then “transmits the information to Norfolk Southern’s Network Operations Center where the data is reviewed by subject-matter experts to identify and address issues to proactively ensure the safety of rail operations.” If any critical defects are found, they are flagged for handling.