Positioning Accuracy and Object Detection: Essential to Keep Maintenance-of-Way Vehicles Safe

Positioning Accuracy and Object Detection: Essential to Keep Maintenance-of-Way Vehicles Safe

Safety for maintenance-of-way vehicles and workers Rail safety is the core of what we do at LILEE Systems and as we discussed in Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC, the job is not done with the PTC implementation at the end of 2020. Our culture of safety continues and expands to maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicles to prevent incidents, further ensuring rail safety while driving productivity and efficiency and supporting the trend towards Precision Scheduled Railroading. Positioning accuracy matters Positioning accuracy is an essential ingredient of LILEE’s MOW Collision Avoidance Solution. When a track authority for a work zone is given to a maintenance vehicle, the sub-division name, track ID, and milepost range are assigned to the authorized vehicle. This allows the authorized vehicle to enter only the authorized track sections. However, in most cases, there are multiple parallel tracks at the location where a vehicle will be entering its authorized section of track. The accuracy in the location report in this scenario becomes very important as an error in the position report can result in collisions if the maintenance vehicle is allowed to enter incorrect track sections without a warning. Or, in the opposite case, the system can generate unwanted warnings when the maintenance vehicle is operating on its authorized section of track. LILEE’s MOW Collision Avoidance Solution includes a high precision positioning hardware which takes advantage of the location data from the multi-band (L1, L2, L5) GNSS with RTK (Real Time Kinematic), the IMU, and the vehicle CAN bus inputs (direction, throttle, speed, etc.). The built-in sensor fusion software then provides a combined positioning accuracy of 0.01 m + 1...
Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC

Safety Vulnerability Remains after PTC

Roadway workers are not protected In 2008, the United States Congress mandated positive train control (PTC) for all passenger and freight trains, with some exceptions. Forty-two railroads are subject to the statutory mandate to implement PTC. Twelve years after PTC was mandated, serious accidents may still occur if a maintenance-of-way (MOW) vehicle unknowingly goes out of its authorized work zones. Maintenance vehicles today are not controlled nor monitored by the PTC system. An incoming train cannot be stopped even when the train is equipped with a PTC system. With the extended PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2020 approaching, now is the perfect time to look into rail safety for maintenance-of-way vehicles and workers as a part of the PTC mandate. PTC-like protection to maintenance-of-way vehicles Positive Train Control is designed to address four problems Train-to-train collisions Derailments caused by excessive train speed Train movements through misaligned track switches Unauthorized train entry into work zones Per the AAR (Association of American Railroads) mandate, PTC shall prevent “unauthorized incursions by trains into sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place.” This mandate however does not protect maintenance vehicles that operate on the railway from running into unauthorized sections of track because majority of the maintenance vehicles do not have any warning or protection systems. Even in some limited cases when the maintenance vehicles are equipped with collision avoidance technologies, they are not integrated with the PTC systems. This imposes enormous safety risks, liabilities, and costs for the rail operators, as this type of accident typically not only incurs property damages easily exceeding $2.5M. The cost of death, injuries, and service...
Wireless Security and Key Management for Positive Train Control Systems

Wireless Security and Key Management for Positive Train Control Systems

The first 49 CFR 236.1033-compliant solution on the market: LILEE Systems Solution for Wireless Security and Key Management  In 2008, the United States Congress mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) for most passenger and freight trains. Forty-two railroads are subject to the statutory mandate to implement PTC. Railroads are required to have PTC fully implemented by December 31, 2020. The Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) is a vital overlay system which, in combination with automatic train control (ATC), constitutes one of two major PTC systems and has been implemented by the Northeast Corridor (NEC) passenger rail operators. As of today, all NEC operators face major challenges associated with obtaining viable solutions for secure wireless communication to comply with the PTC requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Originally, the NEC implementation of PTC lacked two major requirements—wireless link security and interoperability. The FRA reports that software issues related to these two requirements are the biggest roadblock. Fulfilling these mandates requires research and development, implementation, integration, and testing and commissioning (T&C) of an authentication and integrity check method and an interoperable key management technique. LILEE Systems is the first vendor to offer a complete solution that meets and exceeds all the security and interoperability requirements and that provides the best path to meeting the December 2020 PTC deadline. Security challenges that must be addressed From the regulatory perspective, the challenge is how to comply with requirements for wireless security as defined in 49 CFR 236.1033. This regulation requires that all wireless communications between the office, wayside, and onboard components in a PTC system provide cryptographic message integrity and authentication. The problem,...
Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) Will Be The First Step in Autonomous Driving

Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) Will Be The First Step in Autonomous Driving

In 2018, the Taiwanese government started to test the autonomous rapid transit (ART) concept through proof-of-service trials. Thousands of people experienced a 9-meter autonomous bus on a fixed bus route in Taichung, the second largest city in Taiwan, with a speed of up to 30 km/h. ART opens a new possibility of autonomous driving and will enable the first commercial use of the automated transit. Beginnings The early-stage business case for autonomous cars was based on a belief that computer-controlled cars will reduce traffic congestion and accidents by eliminating human errors. Unfortunately, technology has yet to demonstrate driverless cars’ ability to respond to a real-world traffic challenge. Technology giants and automotive industry continue to promise solutions, and the availability target is moving further and further into the future. At the beginning, unmanned personal cars on the road would likely do more harm than good to the already worsening urban traffic. Besides, building an autonomous vehicle from scratch is expensive. When required sensors and autonomous driving systems are added to a new $30,000 car, the final price can easily reach $130,000.  Purchasing an autonomous car might not be realistic until required technology cost can be lower. In the end, city governments and the public still struggle to justify the real benefits of driverless cars, resulting in the delay of adoption. Safety LILEE Systems’  ART concept comes from the railway industry and is based upon rail-safety principles. Autonomous buses run on a virtual track, monitored by a centralized operational control center in real time with a fail-safe system. That means, each action taken by the autonomous bus has to be confirmed...
Why Smart Cities need private wireless networks

Why Smart Cities need private wireless networks

Several cities have already built private wireless networks as part of their Smart City and public transit initiatives. When seeking to support autonomous buses and traffic congestion control, a private wireless network brings ultra-reliable, very low-latency connectivity–an essential that is still missing from cellular carrier networks.   Yes, Private wireless networks are the thing  Today’s communication technologies are not suited for the challenges of next-generation, automated transit. Based on unlicensed frequency ranges, common Wi-Fi (802.11) is well suited to day-to-day business communications. But because it is contention-based, Wi-Fi offers only limited reliability and mobility–key factors for success in mission-critical operational and business applications.  LTE and 4G networks present an alternative to Wi-Fi. Companies including Qualcomm, Nokia, AT&T, and Ligado, are still selling the idea of private LTE networks. Yet, building private LTE networks for utilities, cities, and manufacturing facilities has proven to be very expensive and complex to deploy, operate, and maintain.   It is still not common to see private wireless networks, but this is starting to change. Technologies that support private wireless networks and do not depend on Wi-Fi or cellular are being used when efficiency, safety or profitability depends on ultra-reliable, low-latency connectivity.  An example of successful private wireless network implementation is Port of Los Angeles, which aims to use its network to better track the millions of shipments it handles each year.  What do you get with the private wireless network? One critical benefit of the private wireless network is ultra-high reliability to prevent costly–and often dangerous–downtime. Mission-critical applications require ultra-robust communications without downtime. Predictable performance is another major benefit and demand of mission– and business–critical applications. Consistent high data rates and very low latency with fast and secure roaming are common application demands for connected machines, applications, and workers. High mobility enables advanced applications to run on mobile assets with fast and secure handovers even at the high speeds. Ultra-low latency adds the ability to support even the most demanding command-and-control applications.   What are the private wireless network applications? Industrial-grade private wireless solutions can help cities increase next-generation automation, ensure safety and security,...
5G: Hype or Reality?

5G: Hype or Reality?

5G: Hype or Reality? The Super Bowl is the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year, but it’s also the biggest advertising event. This year, Verizon and T-Mobile launched their 5G offerings at the Super Bowl. While Verizon explained 5G capabilities, T-Mobile joked about a nation-wide 5G network. With other carriers (AT&T and Sprint) being absent, the takeaway is that U.S. 5G rollouts are underwhelming and there is no point investing in 5G devices at this point.   5G promises It’s believed that 5G will be a huge boost for the economy — bigger even than 4G LTE and the mobile app economy that it enabled 10 years ago. Yes, 10 years ago. It takes time to achieve availability and maturity, and the cellular cycle we observe is about 10 years. Countries around the world are competing for 5G global leadership. In order to deliver on promises, massive amounts of new radio spectrum (5G NR)  must be allocated. For example, the FCC is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology (the 5G FAST Plan).   What do you get with 5G? The answer is that it really depends on the spectrum used. It may get too technical for the typical consumer at this point, but for IT professionals this knowledge is essential. They are three different radio frequency (RF) spectrum ranges that could be used, and every range has different advantages and disadvantages. Low-band, sometimes called Sub-1GHz band, is the band formerly used for television broadcast but now primarily used for 3G and LTE in the U.S. This low-band spectrum affords a very wide coverage...