Northern, a UK-based train operator, is set to equip its fleet of 345 trains with light detection and radar (LIDAR) scanning technology in a bid to make journeys more efficient and safer. The train company will install horizon-scanning cameras on the trains to identify infrastructure defects, along with environmental threats, and other maintenance issues.
According to a statement from the company, these cameras leverage the same LIDAR process that was used by the US space agency NASA to map the surface of the moon. This initiative will also see the deployment of the thermal imaging systems to monitor passenger load factors, and send information to service partners in case of an emergency.
The implementation of the new technology will possibly help the trains to detect bumps on the line when they pass over them and will automatically send the GPS co-ordinates to the maintenance teams.
These externally mounted cameras will scan the roofs of tunnels to properly identify loose bricks and alert the safety of infrastructure teams, while the sensors will provide help in detecting energy saving opportunities on the route.
In addition, Northern will also offer British Transport Police with access to the company’s on-board CCTV systems, and this will enable the officers to view on-board footage of its trains in real time and address some potential security incidents.
Nick Donovan, managing director of Northern, said this is the beginning of what they are calling Intelligent Trains, and with these new modifications, their fleet will not just travel the network, but they will also monitor issues that could have an impact on their operation.