Artificial intelligence, LiDAR will help form proactive track maintenance system for MTA

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Emerging technology will help the MTA become more proactive with track maintenance.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will soon decide on which technology it will turn to in regard to its Signaling Challenge Initiative.

Whatever the agency decides on, officials expect the move to help when it comes to infrastructure inspection and upgrades.

Four companies have been running technology pilots since the start of the year, and the MTA will pick one in the coming weeks. The companies were selected by the Transit Tech Lab, which is a public-private partnership between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City. Each company will present proof-of-concept results to the MTA before the agency picks a winner.

One technology developed by 4AI Systems combines artificial intelligence and high-tech cameras mounted on the front of trains to pick up infrastructure issues, track obstacles, and anything else on the right-of-way. The cameras run at 60 frames per second and use thermal imagery to see objects from far off distances. Train operators can work with the real-time data and if needed can tag the information and send it to control.

Ouster and Lux Modus have an experiment involving digital LiDAR sensors mounted on maintenance railcars that gather high-resolution, 3-D geospatial data points to create a precise picture of the system. Equipment can identify structural damage, deteriorating infrastructure, and objects in the system.

New York Transit President Richard Davey said the LiDAR sensors allow for “proactive maintenance,” which is the future direction of the system.

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