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ÖBB Unveils Drone Garages for Efficient Railway Line Surveillance and Rapid Damage Assessment

ÖBB Unveils Drone Garages for Efficient Railway Line Surveillance and Rapid Damage Assessment
foto: ÖBB / Public domain/Drone
01 / 12 / 2023

Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) is pioneering a novel approach to rail network maintenance by deploying strategically placed drone garages.

This initiative, a first in European railway infrastructure, aims to provide prompt responses to incidents such as rockfalls and storm damage on hard-to-reach railway lines. Until now, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG experts had to physically inspect tracks on foot to assess damages. Determining whether incidents involved minor debris or required substantial clearing efforts is a rather time-consuming process that the drones promise to revolutionize by providing real-time aerial imagery, thereby enabling quicker decision-making and significantly reducing route closures.

ÖBB / Public domain

Stationed in garages along the ÖBB route network, the drones can be operated remotely without direct visual contact with the pilots – a breakthrough in drone application. By substituting manual track inspections with drone surveillance, particularly in challenging terrains or during adverse weather conditions, ÖBB anticipates considerable time savings. Such a step will enhance operational efficiency and improve passenger and railway company adaptability.

The project was implemented in collaboration with Frequentis and with support from Austro Control. Frequentis CEO Norbert Haslacher lauded the development of a highly automated solution that integrates seamlessly into the control centers of large infrastructure companies. “We are proud to be doing pioneering work together with ÖBB and to have helped make the first approval of this kind possible for our partner in Europe,” he added.

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