Platform safety on the radar for researchers

January 6, 2012
Platform safety on the radar for researchers

Systems used to detect aircraft and ships could soon be fitted in train stations to quickly identify objects – or even people – that have fallen on the tracks, preventing serious accidents and reducing delays that are frequently caused by these mishaps.

Used in conjunction with CCTV, which can often blur or become obstructed, a device could quickly identify luggage items that regularly fall off station platforms and in the event of a person falling on the tracks, feedback to a system that stops oncoming trains and cuts the high voltage of the lines.

The detection system, demonstrated today, 6 January, in IOP Publishing's journal Measurement Science and Technology, sends ultra wideband radio waves towards objects and then records them as they bounce back, revealing the intricate characteristics of the object in question.

"The aim of the system is to identify any objects or persons that may have fallen onto the tracks. In a large, capital city underground, this can happen two to three times a week and lead to significantly long service interruptions.

"With the possibility of trains, passengers and even poor lighting, in some instances, obscuring the view of CCTV cameras, radar techniques could certainly be effective in these scenarios," said lead author Ali Mroué.

The researchers, from IFSTTAR and IEMN, in the framework of the Université Lille Nord de France, used an Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) procedure whereby the characteristics of an object are defined and then trimmed down so only the most important ones are stored. The characteristics are then compared to those of other objects on a database, with the overall classification depending on the degree of similarity.

Using a computer model, the researchers initially tested out a number of objects, ranging from suitcases to glass bottles, and several models of the human body: an adult, a teenager and a child. In the simulations, the radar was able to successfully discriminate between the different objects, confirming its applicability.

Real-life experiments were then performed in a small, echo-free chamber, using a three metre long waveguide – a solid beam-like structure that guides the radio waves in a certain direction; in this case, towards the you are measuring.

In these experiments, three humans were used – two men and one woman – along with two luggage bags made of different materials. The system successfully differentiated between the luggage bags and the humans, meaning a potential system could highlight the urgency of a response.

"We hope these devices will be used in the near future since they are very complementary to existing video systems and have a similar final cost. The complementary use of video and radar systems could lead to low levels of false detection, which is mandatory for this application, and maximise the chance of survival for passengers who have fallen on the line," continued Mroué.

Explore further: Light-based localisation for robotic systems (w/ Video)

More information: "Automatic radar target recognition of objects on railway tracks" (2012 Meas. Sci. Technol. 23 025401)

Related Stories

Light-based localisation for robotic systems (w/ Video)

April 9, 2010

( -- Getting robotic systems to accurately detect both moving and static objects remains an obstacle to building more autonomous robots and more advanced surveillance systems. Innovative technology that uses light ...

New CCTV technology helps prevent terror attacks

September 9, 2010

Numerous CCTV systems are in use in public places which have the capacity to gather large amounts of image material. For the time being, however, there are no effective ways to analyze the mass of video data automatically ...

Improved method developed to locate ships in storms

March 1, 2011

There are already systems that detect ships at sea, but a group of engineers from the UAH, led by the researcher Raúl Vicen, has introduced a new development, involving "the use of artificial intelligence techniques ...

Making runways safer

August 1, 2011

Airplanes undergo significant stresses during take-off and landing, and parts often become detached, putting subsequent runway users at risk. Until now, airport staff have had to monitor runways without technical assistance ...

How bats 'hear' objects in their path

November 24, 2011

( -- By placing real and virtual objects in the flight paths of bats, scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Munich have shed new light on how echolocation works.  Their research is published today ...

Recommended for you

Apple issues update after cyber weapon captured

August 26, 2016

Apple iPhone owners on Friday were urged to install a quickly released security update after a sophisticated attack on an Emirati dissident exposed vulnerabilities targeted by cyber arms dealers.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.