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Title:
DETECTION UNITS FOR MONITORING A TRAIN TRAVELLING ON A RAILWAY, AND RELATED SYSTEMS AND METHODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/122193
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present inventive concept relates to a detection unit for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, wherein the detection unit comprises: a mounting arrangement configured to attach the detection unit to a rail of said railway; a sensor arrangement comprising an accelerometer and/or a microphone, wherein the sensor arrangement is configured to generate sensor data using the accelerometer and/or the microphone; a processing unit configured to compare the sensor data to a reference value and to generate, based on the comparison, a notice related to said train travelling on said railway; and a communication unit configured to communicate the notice to at least one receiving unit. The present inventive concept also relates to related systems and methods.

Inventors:
LONG, Jack, Richard (STOCKHOLM, 102 47, SE)
Application Number:
EP2018/086307
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
December 20, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RAILWAY METRICS AND DYNAMICS SWEDEN AB (P.O. Box 5339, Stockholm, 102 47, SE)
International Classes:
B61L1/16; B61L23/06; B61L29/20; B61L29/32
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015089581A12015-06-25
WO2012036565A12012-03-22
Foreign References:
US20170282944A12017-10-05
EP0024978A11981-03-11
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AWA SWEDEN AB (Box104 30 Stockholm, 104 30, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A detection unit for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, wherein the detection unit comprises:

a mounting arrangement configured to attach the detection unit to a rail of said railway;

a sensor arrangement comprising an accelerometer and/or a microphone, wherein the sensor arrangement is configured to generate sensor data using the accelerometer and/or the microphone;

a processing unit configured to compare the sensor data to a reference value and to generate, based on the comparison, a notice related to said train travelling on said railway; and

a communication unit configured to communicate the notice to at least one receiving unit.

2. The detection unit according to claim 1 , wherein the mounting

arrangement comprises a magnet.

3. The detection unit according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the notice pertains to at least one of a velocity of said train, a direction of travel of said train, and a distance from said train to the detection unit.

4. The detection unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the notice further comprises location data pertaining to a location of the detection unit.

5. The detection unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the communication unit is configured to communicate with the at least one receiving unit wirelessly, electrically, and/or acoustically via said rail. 6. The detection unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the accelerometer is configured to monitor at least longitudinal, vertical and/or lateral movement in the rail.

7. The detection unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the accelerometer is configured to monitor vibrations having a frequency of between 1 to 100 Hz, and wherein the microphone is configured to monitor sound having a frequency of between 2000 and 20000 Hz.

8. A system for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, comprising:

the detection unit according to any one of claims 1 to 7; and

at least one receiving unit configured to communicate with the communication unit and to receive the notice.

9. The system according to claim 8, wherein the at least one receiving unit is arranged in said train.

10. The system according to claim 8 or 9, further comprising an alerting unit configured to generate an alert, for alerting a surrounding of the alerting unit of said train, in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice.

1 1. The system according to claim 10, wherein the alerting unit is further configured to generate at least one of a visual alert, a tactile alert, an auditory alert, or a physical alert.

12. The system according to claims 10 or 1 1 , wherein the alerting unit is arranged at a level crossing and/or a worksite associated with said railway.

13. The system according to any one of claims 10 to 12, further comprising a portable device for being carried by maintenance workers associated with said railway, wherein the portable device comprises the alerting unit.

14. A method for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, the method comprising:

generating sensor data via an accelerometer and/or a microphone of a detection unit mounted to a rail of said railway;

comparing the sensor data to a reference value;

generating a notice, based on the comparison, related to said train travelling on said railway; and

communicating, via a communication unit of the detection unit, the notice to at least one receiving unit.

15. The method according to claim 14, further comprising

generating an alert, via an alerting unit, for alerting a surrounding of the alerting unit of said train, in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice.

Description:
DETECTION UNITS FOR MONITORING A TRAIN TRAVELLING ON A RAILWAY, AND RELATED SYSTEMS AND METHODS

Technical field

The inventive concept described herein generally relates to the field monitoring, alarm, and warning systems for trains.

Background

Current alarm and warning systems vary greatly from simplistic to

sophisticated. At level crossings, on the simplistic side, are mere wooden structures indicating a railway crossing ahead, with neither lighting nor any physical barrier. The other end of the spectrum comprises sophisticated and complex systems, featuring alarm bells, flashing lights and barrier arms which are activated to drop into position to stop traffic and pedestrians. These systems are automatically activated by a signal of an approaching train generated via a track electric circuit sensor system activated by an approach of a train. Level crossing safety is a major concern to several stakeholders associated with the railway, as well as the communities where the level crossings are located. Fatal and costly accidents continue at locations of both simplistic and sophisticated systems.

Furthermore, there are various safety procedures and devices in use to protect maintenance crew working on a railway or any structure or system

associated with a railway. However, there continues to be serious and sometimes fatal accidents, when workers are struck by moving trains. Current technology utilizes some type of detection system, combined with radio communications and an alarm system to warn workers that a train is approaching the work site. Typically, the detection system is a person dedicated to looking out for incoming trains. The reliability of current systems is questionable.

There is a need for improved monitoring of trains, in particular with respect to cost, simplicity, reliability, maintenance requirement, and ease of installation. Summary of the invention

It is an object of the present inventive concept to mitigate, alleviate or eliminate one or more of the above-identified deficiencies in the art and

disadvantages singly or in combination. According to a first aspect of the inventive concept, these and other objects are achieved in full, or at least in part, by a detection unit for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, wherein the detection unit comprises: a mounting

arrangement configured to attach the detection unit to a rail of said railway; a sensor arrangement comprising an accelerometer, wherein the sensor arrangement is configured to generate sensor data using the accelerometer; a processing unit configured to compare the sensor data to a reference value and to generate, based on the comparison, a notice related to said train travelling on said railway; and a communication unit configured to communicate the notice to at least one receiving unit. Hereby, a more reliable way of monitoring trains travelling on a railway may be achieved. In particular, the mounting arrangement may provide for simple attachment and detachment of the detection unit to a rail of the railway. Further, by attaching the detection unit to the railway, vibrations and/or movements of the rail may be sensed by the sensor arrangement. The mounting arrangement may comprise a magnet. Hereby, vibrations and/or movements of the rail may be appropriately transmitted to the detection unit. The magnet may be arranged in the detection unit within an outer housing. The outer housing may be arranged to make direct contact with the rail. The magnet may thus be prevented from making direct contact with the rail, and detachment of the detection unit may be facilitated. Further, the magnet may be shielded from an outer environment.

The mounting arrangement may be configured to attach the detection unit to a part of the railway and/or part of the railway arrangement, such as a sleeper, an arrangement fastening a rail to a sleeper, and/or in connection to a ballast of the railway arrangement.

The notice may pertain to at least one of a velocity of said train, a direction of travel of said train, and a distance of said train to the detection unit. In other words, the notice may comprise data and/or information pertaining to at least one of a velocity of said train, a direction of travel of said train, and a distance from said train to the detection unit.

In general, the inventive concept may provide for remote monitoring of trains travelling on a railway. In this context, the term‘remote’ implies that the detection unit may sense a train, via the sensor arrangement, before the train has passed the detection unit. In particular, the detection unit may be capable of monitoring trains located several kilometers away from the detection unit.

The comparison of sensor data to the reference value may comprise comparing, for at least one axis, at least one of an amplitude and a frequency, in the time domain and/or the frequency domain, to a reference value. Further, at least two points or sets of sensor data may be generated over time, and the at least two points or sets of sensor data may be compared to each other, and/or to a reference value, in order to generate the notice.

The notice may further comprise location data pertaining to a location of the detection unit. Hereby, a location of the detection unit may be determined. It is further envisioned that a location of the detection unit may be determined via other means. For example, a location of the detection unit may be hardcoded and included in location data pertaining to a location of the detection unit in arrangements where the detection unit is part of a fixed installation, e.g. a level crossing. Further, the detection unit may be arranged at a known location, e.g. a checkpoint of a railway, where further the location of the detection data is included in location data pertaining to a location of the detection unit.

The detection unit may further comprise a global positioning system (GPS) configured to generate location data. If the location of the detection unit is known, e.g. via the GPS of the detection unit, a notice pertaining to a velocity of the train may provide for a possibility to determine an estimated time of arrival of the train at the location of the detection unit. Further, if the location of the detection unit is not known, but the notice pertains to a distance from the train to the detection unit and the velocity of the train, it may be possible to determine an estimated time of arrival of the train at the location of the detection unit.

The communication unit may be configured to communicate with the at least one receiving unit wirelessly, electrically via said railway, electrically via said rail, acoustically via said railway, or acoustically via said rail. The communication unit may be configured to communicate electrically, acoustically, via e.g., GSM,

Bluetooth, and/or via any other wireless protocol.

The accelerometer may be configured to monitor at least longitudinal, vertical and/or lateral movement in the rail. The accelerometer may thus be configured to monitor movement along a longitudinal axis, a vertical axis, and/or a lateral axis. The inventors have further realized that a train moving on a railway may cause vibrations and/or movements in the rails having characteristic properties in each of the axes defined above. Accordingly, the reference value referred to above may comprise a specific reference value for each axis, i.e. a longitudinal reference value, vertical reference value, and/or lateral reference value. Similarly, the sensor data may comprise longitudinal sensor data, vertical sensor data, and/or lateral sensor data.

The accelerometer may be configured to monitor vibrations having a frequency of between 1 to 100 Hz. Hence, the accelerometer may be configured to sample sensor data at a rate of at least 200 Hz.

The sensor arrangement may comprise a microphone configured to monitor vibrations and/or sound produced by the rail or railway having a frequency of between 2000 and 20000 Hz. Hence, the microphone may be configured to sample sensor data at a rate of at least 40000 Hz.

According to a second aspect of the inventive concept, these and other objects are achieved in full, or at least in part, by a system for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, comprising: the detection unit according to the first aspect; and at least one receiving unit configured to communicate with the communication unit and to receive the notice.

The system may comprise at least two detection units according to the first aspect. The at least two detection units may be configured to communicate with each other. Hereby, first sensor data from a first detection unit of the at least two detection units, and second sensor data from a second detection unit of the at least two detection units, may be compared to the reference value and/or to each other.

The at least one receiving unit may be arranged in said train. Hereby, the train may be notified that it is approaching a location at which the detection unit is located.

The system may further comprise an alerting unit configured to generate an alert, for alerting a surrounding of the alerting unit of said train, in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice. Hence, the alerting unit may be configured to communicate with the at least one receiving unit. The at least one receiving unit may be further configured to cause the alerting unit to generate the alert. The alerting unit may be further configured to generate at least one of a visual alert, a tactile alert, an auditory alert, or a physical alert.

The visual alert may comprise at least one of emitting visual light, and displaying an alert, e.g. text and/or graphics, on a screen. Hence, the alerting unit may comprise a light emitting element and/or a digital screen configured to display the alert.

The tactile alert may comprise vibrations generated by a portable device in which the alerting unit is arranged.

The auditory alert may comprise sound having a frequency between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, i.e. being perceptible by humans. Hence, the alerting unit may comprise a speaker configured to generate the auditory alert.

The physical alert may comprise engaging a barrier such that access to the railway is restricted. Such a barrier may comprise full width barriers extending along a full length of a road on either side of the railway. Further, the barrier may comprise a set of half barriers extending halfway across a road on one side of the railway, and extending halfway across the road on a corresponding other side of the railway. It is also envisioned that such barriers may comprise boom barriers, boom gates, bars, poles, gates, and/or fences. Hence, the alerting unit may comprise a barrier element configured to restrict access to the railway in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice. The alerting unit may be arranged at a level crossing and/or a worksite associated with said railway. Hereby, persons nearby the level crossing and/or the worksite may be alerted of an incoming train.

The system may further comprise a portable device for being carried by maintenance workers associated with said railway, wherein the portable device comprises the alerting unit. The portable device may further comprise the at least one receiving unit. It is also envisioned the system may comprise a portable device for being carried by maintenance workers associated with said railway, wherein the portable device is configured to generate an alert. At least some of the alerts described earlier in conjunction with the alerting unit may be generated by a portable device, such as a smartphone or a dedicated portable alerting device.

The at least one receiving unit may be arranged in a communications control center. The communications control center may be able to communicate with e.g. said train, maintenance workers, the alerting unit, and/or other parties of interest.

According to a third aspect of the inventive concept, these and other objects are achieved in full, or at least in part, by a method for monitoring a train travelling on a railway, the method comprising: generating sensor data via an accelerometer and/or a microphone of a detection unit mounted to a rail of said railway; comparing the sensor data to a reference value; generating a notice, based on the comparison, related to said train travelling on said railway; and communicating, via a

communication unit of the detection unit, the notice to at least one receiving unit.

The method may further comprise generating an alert, via an alerting unit, for alerting a surrounding of the alerting unit of said train, in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice.

A feature described in relation to one aspect may also be incorporated in other aspects, and the advantage of the feature is applicable to all aspects in which it is incorporated.

Other objectives, features and advantages of the present inventive concept will appear from the following detailed disclosure, from the attached claims as well as from the drawings.

Generally, all terms used in the claims are to be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning in the technical field, unless explicitly defined otherwise herein. Further, the use of terms "first", "second", and "third", and the like, herein do not denote any order, quantity, or importance, but rather are used to distinguish one element from another. All references to "a/an/the [element, device, component, means, step, etc]" are to be interpreted openly as referring to at least one instance of said element, device, component, means, step, etc., unless explicitly stated otherwise. The steps of any method disclosed herein do not have to be performed in the exact order disclosed, unless explicitly stated. Brief description of the drawings

The above, as well as additional objects, features and advantages of the present inventive concept, will be better understood through the following illustrative and non-limiting detailed description of different embodiments of the present inventive concept, with reference to the appended drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 schematically illustrates a rail and a detection unit according to the first aspect of the inventive concept in a cross sectional view; and

FIG. 2 schematically illustrates a system according to the second aspect of the inventive concept. The figures are not necessarily to scale, and generally only show parts that are necessary in order to elucidate the inventive concept, wherein other parts may be omitted or merely suggested.

Detailed description

FIG. 1 illustrates a detection unit 100 attached to a rail 102 of a railway in a cross-sectional view. The detection unit 100 may be arranged to be attached to the rail between a head 103 and a base 105 of the rail. In particular, the detection unit 100 may be arranged to be attached to a web 107 of the rail 102. It is further envisioned that the detection unit 100 may be attached to the base 105, and/or to a lower surface 109 of the head 103. The detection unit 100 comprises an outer housing 104 here being in contact with the rail 102. The detection unit 100 may comprise a magnet (not shown) arranged within the outer housing 104, wherein the magnet is configured to attach the detection unit to the rail 102. The outer housing 104 may further be configured to house a sensor arrangement (not shown), a processing unit (not shown), and a communication unit (not shown). The sensor arrangement comprises an

accelerometer, and is configured to generate sensor data using the accelerometer. The processing unit is configured to compare the sensor data to a reference value and to generate, based on the comparison, a notice related to a train travelling on the railway. The communication unit is configured to communicate the notice to at least one receiving unit.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a system 200 is schematically illustrated. The system 200 comprises the detection unit 100, and at least one receiving unit configured to communicate with the communication unit and to receive the notice. The at least one receiving unit is in the illustrated figure embodied in various arrangements. The various receiving units will be discussed in the following paragraphs, and it is to be understood that the inventive concept may include any single receiving unit, or combine any number of the receiving units, in the system according to the second aspect. In other words, all receiving units must not necessarily be included in the system 200.

Further, references to communication links are made in the following paragraphs. It is to be understood that such communication links may be wireless and/or wired, and that the communication links are not necessarily direct links in the sense that intervening communication devices may be present for transferring and/or forwarding the notice to the receiving unit.

A train 108 is here illustrated travelling on a railway 106. Motions of the train 108 will cause movement of the railway 106, and in particular of each rail of the railway. The detection unit 100 is thus arranged on a rail 102 of the railway 106, thus allowing the detection unit 100 to monitor, via the sensor arrangement (not shown) and the accelerometer of the same, movement of and vibration in the rail 102. It is envisioned that the detection unit 100 may be attached to any one of the rails of the railway 106, or to both of the rails. Further, as discussed earlier, several detection units 100 may be arranged along the railway.

The detection unit 100 generates sensor data via the sensor arrangement, and a processing unit (not shown) compares the sensor data to a reference value and generates, based on the comparison, a notice related to the train 108 travelling on the railway 106. The notice is communicated via a communication unit (not shown) to at least one receiving unit. The following paragraphs will discuss various receiving units.

Via communication path 150, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to an on-site receiving unit 1 10. The on-site receiving unit 1 10 may be arranged in proximity of the railway 106. For example, the on-site receiving unit 1 10 may be arranged on a worksite (not shown) associated with the railway 106. In response to receiving the notice, the on-site receiving unit 110 may cause an alerting unit 112 associated with the on-site receiving unit 1 10 to generate an alert. The on- site receiving unit 110 and the alerting unit 112 are here represented by a single element in the figure. However, it is envisioned that the on-site receiving unit 1 10 and the alerting unit 1 12 may be separate units. The alerting unit 112 associated with the on-site receiving unit 110 may alert people in a vicinity of the alerting unit 1 12 of the train 108 travelling on the railway 106.

The detection unit 100 may also communicate the notice to a cloud based receiver 1 14 via communication path 152. From the cloud based receiver 1 14, the notice may then be communicated to the on-site receiving unit 1 10 via

communication path 156. It is also envisioned that the notice may be communicated to a communications control center 116, directly from the detection unit 100 via communication path 158, and/or via the cloud based receiver 1 14 via communication paths 152 and 160. From the communications control center 116, the notice may then be communicated from the communications control center 116 to the on-site receiving unit 110 (communication path not illustrated for the sake of clarity).

Via communication path 162, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice directly to the train 108. In particular, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to a receiving unit of the train 108. The notice may alert crew operating the train 108 that the train 108 is approaching e.g. a worksite or a level crossing. The crew may thus take action accordingly.

The detection unit 100 may also communicate the notice to the train 108 via communication path 152, cloud based receiver 1 14, and communication path 164 from the cloud based receiver 1 14 to the train 108. It is further envisioned that the communications control center 116 may communicate the notice to the train 108 (communication path not illustrated for the sake of clarity) upon receiving the notice via communication path 158 and/or communication paths 152 and 160.

Via communication path 166, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to a portable device 118 of the system 200. In particular, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to a receiving unit of the portable device 118. The portable device 118 may be carried by e.g. workers 120 associated with the railway 106. The portable device 118 may comprise an alerting unit, and/or be configured to generate an alert and function similarly to an alerting unit as described in the present disclosure. The portable device 118 may be e.g. a smart phone, tablet, or the like. Hereby, a worker 120 associated with the railway 106 may receive an alert, via the portable device 118, which alerts the workers 120 of the train 108. It is further envisioned that the detection unit 100 may be configured to send the notice to any nearby portable device, such as a smart phone, thus alerting any person in a vicinity of the detection unit 100, and thus also in a vicinity of the railway 106, of the train The detection unit 100 may also communicate the notice to the portable device 1 18 via communication path 152, cloud based receiver 1 14, and

communication path 168 from the cloud based receiver 114 to the portable device 1 18. It is further envisioned that the communications control center 116 may communicate the notice to the portable device 118 (communication path not illustrated for the sake of clarity) upon receiving the notice via communication path 158 and/or communication paths 152 and 160.

Via communication path 170, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to a level crossing 122. In particular, the detection unit 100 may communicate the notice to a receiving unit of the level crossing 122. The level crossing 122 may comprise a level crossing alerting unit 124. The level crossing alerting unit 124 here comprises a physical barrier. It is further envisioned that auditory and/or visual alerts may be included in the level crossing alerting unit 124. The receiving unit of the level crossing 122 may cause the level crossing alerting unit 124 to generate an alert, e.g. engaging the barrier, such that persons are alerted of the train 108 moving towards the level crossing 122.

The detection unit 100 may also communicate the notice to the level crossing 122 via communication path 152, cloud based receiver 1 14, and communication path 172 from the cloud based receiver 114 to level crossing 122. It is further envisioned that the communications control center 116 may communicate the notice to the level crossing 122 (communication path not illustrated for the sake of clarity) upon receiving the notice via communication path 158 and/or communication paths 152 and 160.

A method for monitoring a train travelling on a railway according to the inventive concept will now be described with reference to FIG. 3. For clarity and simplicity, the method will be described in terms of‘steps’. It is emphasized that steps are not necessarily processes that are delimited in time or separate from each other, and more than one‘step’ may be performed at the same time in a parallel fashion.

The method comprises a step 380 of generating sensor data via an accelerometer of a detection unit mounted to a rail of said railway; a step 382 of comparing the sensor data to a reference value; a step 384 of generating a notice, based on the comparison, related to said train travelling on said railway; and a step 386 of communicating, via a communication unit of the detection unit, the notice to at least one receiving unit. The method may further comprise a step 388 of generating an alert, via an alerting unit, for alerting a surrounding of the alerting unit of said train, in response to the at least one receiving unit receiving the notice.

The inventive concept has mainly been described above with reference to a few embodiments. However, as is readily appreciated by a person skilled in the art, other embodiments than the ones disclosed above are equally possible within the scope of the inventive concept, as defined by the appended patent claims.

List of reference signs

100 Detection unit

102 Rail

103 Head

104 Outer housing

105 Base

106 Railway

107 Web

108 Train

109 Lower surface

110 On-site receiving unit

112 Alerting unit

114 Cloud based receiver

116 Communications control center

118 Portable device

120 Workers

122 Level crossing

124 Level crossing alerting unit

150 Communication path

152 “

154 “

156 “

158 “

160 162

164

166

168

170

172

200 System

380 Step of generating sensor data

382 Step of comparing sensor data

384 Step of generating notice

386 Step of communicating notice

388 Step of generating an alert