Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vision on the right lines

If you live in the rail-deprived USA you may not be familiar with current-collecting pantographs. Effectively, big springs with conductive strips on the top, these are mounted on the roofs of trails and trolley-buses where they press against the current-carrying wire.

Obviously, if the conductive strip gets damaged or wears beyond a certain point, electricity ceases to flow to the motor and passengers are, one presumes, subjected to an annoying wait.

That’s where the Pantobot comes in. A tantalizingly brief description in Vision Systems Design led me to the website of manufacturer Henesis. The technical details are in Italian, in which I lack fluency, but the pictures are good.

Basically, the system consists of cameras that snap pictures of the pantographs, even when the train is in motion, and some kind of expert system that alerts a reviewer to when a strip needs checking. Interestingly, Henesis describe this as a “Web Service”, which I imagine means the images are saved in the cloud and can be pulled down by anyone who wants or needs to see them.

More details would be interesting, so if you’re reading this Andy Wilson …

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