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AusRAIL PLUS: Alstom smart robot steals show

alstom smart

 

The Alstom smart technology four-legged robot was undoubtedly one of the major crowd-pullers on the AusRAIL PLUS exhibition floor. 

The canine-looking rail inspection innovation   based on models developed by autonomous robotics solutions provider ANYbotics even stole the show at the conference’s Yellow Dinner, when Alstom Managing Director (Australia and New Zealand) Pascal Dupond summoned it on stage to accompany his presentation. 

Alstom plans to use the smart robot to predict equipment failures and optimise maintenance schedules, thus enhancing the effectiveness of train inspections.  

The advanced robotic platform captures accurate data on the train’s health and integrates with the company’s bespoke AI solution for predictive maintenance and fleet management, HealthHub.

At the controls of the smart robot at AusRAIL PLUS, Alstom robotics innovation leader Sylvain Barraud explained that the device automatically captured videos and images of rail assets as it moved around the train along the lateral side, roof and underbody of the carriage, to gather inspection points.  

“The videos and images are uploaded to the cloud through a secure network and inspected using AI and conventional image processing algorithms,” he said.  

“Automated processes locate any potential issues, such as checking the alignment of parts and detecting the presence of panels, transmitting inspection results in real-time to guide maintenance teams to make timely repairs.” 

 

 

By seamlessly integrating artificial intelligence and robotics, the train’s condition can be monitored better, translating to reduced downtime and heightened vehicle safety. Potential issues can be identified before they cause any disruptions to services.    

The Alstom smart robot can proactively identify small defects like absent screws which may not be visible to the naked eye, with early detection preventing breakdowns.  

Using 3D mapping of a maintenance depot for autonomous missions, it adopts a comprehensive detection method, navigating autonomously on predefined routes. The analysis covers dynamic detection of parts both onboard and in the undercarriage of the train, creating a detailed real-time report of results.  

The web-based platform analyses the data captured from railway systems, from trains, signalling and infrastructure, which is processed with algorithms created by Alstom’s data scientists and displayed on an interactive dashboard.  

Thanks to the massive volume of data collected, indicators can be created which can be viewed by the operator, maintainer, transport authorities or vehicle owner. They reduce lifecycle costs by extending the remaining useful life of all types of rail equipment, saving up to 20 per cent in preventive maintenance labour and 15 per cent in materials consumption.

Barraud said the “dog” was the source of much attention as it pranced around the Alstom booth. 

“People can really relate to these types of robots, as they appeal to all ages. People are drawn to the curiosity of it, giving us the opportunity to tell more about the robots and explain what they are used for. 

“It’s an ice-breaker to help engage conversation with visitors: they will just first see the dog and then we get to talk about its use in improving maintenance operations with this kind of new technology.” 

Barraud said the robots, which were commercially available, were adapted for rail by Alstom to navigate in new environments such as rail depots, capturing the information to help improve maintenance operations.