Students develop device for detecting cracks on rail tracks

Students of the Vidya Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) have developed a device to detect cracks on railway tracks.

The device, named railway track crack detector, is an unmanned automatic vehicle that detects cracks as it moves along the track.

Ultrasonic detection

Ultrasonic detection is the method used. When the vehicle detects a crack, it sends a signal to the control room. While it is on the track, the device does not hinder movement of trains. When a train arrives, the device, which uses a pneumatic system, shrinks. The detector helps view the cracks on the track and its GPS system allows locating the vehicle.

“Such a system has not been used anywhere so far,” claimed Sudha Balagopalan, principal of VAST.

There are different ways of detecting cracks on rail tracks using infrared rays, ultrasonic waves, Rayleigh waves, eddy current techniques, image comparison technology and laser ultrasonic method.

The students said they found the ultrasonic system the most effective.

The system allows detecting even the smallest cracks on the tracks and sends wireless signals to the control room.

“The Indian Railways currently uses Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) cars for detecting cracks. The car is large and cannot give way to a train,” said Dr. Balagopalan.

Warning signal

The vehicle developed by the students can be programmed to run from its origin to a destination. That is, from one station to another. During its journey, it sends ultrasonic waves to the sides of the tracks. If there is any crack, the signal will not elicit response and it allows a warning signal to be sent to the control room.

The vehicle contains two pistons on the sides and two pistons at the bottom for shrinking when a train approaches. Both pistons work with the help of a small DC compressor, which is powered by a 12 volt battery. Pistons are controlled by two solenoids and the movement of the vehicle is controlled by two DC motors. The DC motors contain gears inside and allow for carrying heavy load. The system is wireless. Solar panels may be mounted on the system for charging the batteries.

Published in: on September 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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