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Drones with 5G technology – The “FreeRail” project consortium successfully completes first test series together with Ericsson.

Drones with 5G technology – The “FreeRail” project consortium successfully completes first test series together with Ericsson.

Why does it make sense to implement 5G mobile communications in drones? Professional mapping drones are equipped with cameras that create high-resolution aerial images. The collected data is used to serve various industries and diverse use cases. The amount of data is constantly increasing and needs to be transferred to a server or data cloud for analysis. For specific cases or on request by the users, data from the flying drone must be transmitted in real-time to a ground control station.

This is the case when inspecting and monitoring infrastructure or when assessing a live situation during rescue operations. In the future, 5G technology is a possible solution approach to ensure more transmission capacity in the network and higher transmission speeds on a sustainable basis. At full network coverage, 5G mobile communication offers the possibility of controlling the drone with almost unlimited range and sending the captured data to the control centers in real-time.

For DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH in particular, this is an essential requirement when it comes to inspecting DB AG’s approximately 34,000-kilometer route network from the air using drones and validating the data in near time. The “FreeRail” project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), is concerned with automating precisely this use case. Quantum-Systems GmbH, DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH, Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences (THI), the city of Ingolstadt, and geo-konzept GmbH are partners in the “FreeRail” project consortium. In October 2020 together with Ericsson, project partner of the “5G-ConnectedMobility” consortium, Quantum-Systems successfully completed a first test series for the implementation of 5G technology in the Trinity F90+ drones.

Scientists from Ingolstadt University of Technology and experts from Ericsson played a leading role in the technical implementation of this 5G test mission.

In a wide-ranging test series, a test system with a cellular modem and camera was installed in a Trinity F90+ drone. Tests were then carried out in the test field provided by Ericsson for the “5G-Connected Mobility” project near Nuremberg. The testbed provides a 5G network infrastructure with numerous new 5G techniques such as edge computing as well as a real application environment. During the flight tests various data transmission metrics were measured at various altitudes up to 100 meters, such as signal quality, data throughput, and transmission delay. Further tests used the 5G technology Network Slicing available in the test field. Long-range, real-life tests also tried out handoffs between multiple mobile cells during 45-minute flights.

“The results of the tests have shown that reliable connectivity to the drone can be ensured via 5G and that the capacity is sufficient for the applications tested.”
Pierre Ulfig

Quantum-Systems GmbH

The advantages of the new 5G mobile standard are obvious: with data transmission rates of several Gbits/s and latency of well below 5ms, it is possible to transmit data in near real-time. This makes 5G technology considerably more powerful than the LTE mobile communications standard used to date.
“The great potential for transmitting payload data as well as the numerous 5G techniques such as edge computing and network slicing can be used advantageously for drone applications.”
Prof. Andreas Festag

Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt

Deutsche Bahn relies on Quantum-Systems drones to inspect its route network

Deutsche Bahn relies on Quantum-Systems drones to inspect its route network

DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH is once again purchasing Trinity F90+ drones for undisrupted detection of storm damage and vegetation near the track.

Gilching, Germany, 3rd of August 2020 – DB Fahrwegdienste has again decided to implement Quantum-Systems Trinity F90+ drones to be used for storm damage detection and vegetation inspection near the track. geo-konzept GmbH, as a sales partner, has helped DB Fahrwegdienste to obtain enough of the Trinity F90+ VTOL drones for each of the seven branches allowing for maximum coverage track and area inspection.

DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of DB Netz AG. They are responsible for services along the infrastructure of DB Netz AG. To fulfil the prescribed traffic safety obligation in regards to vegetation, this must be inspected, documented and evaluated by qualified personnel at least once a year along the entire route network. Railway traffic should not be disrupted during these inspections. Checking and maintaining the 33,499 km long network and the constantly growing vegetation near the tracks is a time-consuming and demanding task.

Using the fully automatically operated Trinity F90+ drones, data acquisition is fast and digital, which is a considerable simplification and time saver. The drones fly over pre-defined route sections and take aerial photographs for the regular inventory. In addition, they can react quickly after possible damage events, such as storms or severe weather, and record and document the damage along the route network from the air. And all this without disruption to rail traffic.

With the help of future autonomously operated long-range drones from Quantum-Systems, we would be able to inspect the tracks during flight operations out of sight (BVLOS) much faster and more efficiently than with conventional terrestrial recording. Already today, the high-quality and objective recording of vegetation and track infrastructure by means of a VTOL drone with all the analysis options in data evaluation is a real added value for internal tasks

Matthias Maier

Project manager for digital remote sensing, DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH

Quantum-Systems GmbH is pleased to be able to support DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH with new VTOL UAS and sees it as a confirmation of the good cooperation with its customer. Beginning in September 2019, both companies have been working on the fully automated recording of vegetation near the track and storm damage along the Deutsche Bahn route network with the Trinity F90+ drones as part of the “FreeRail” project. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure within the framework of the Modernity Fund (“mFUND“) funding guideline. It deals with a digital solution for the growing challenges in the maintenance of Deutsche Bahn’s railway tracks.

DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH is an important strategic customer and partner for us. Our joint research work is focused on data-based digital applications to drive tomorrow’s mobility. The potential of drones is far from being exhausted in this context. Sustainable decisions are to be made based on data. And it is precisely this data that we provide with our drone technology. At any time, at any place and in the highest quality.

Florian Seibel

CEO, Quantum-Systems GmbH

After successful completion of the project and the test phase, Matthias Maier plans to equip all branches with several VTOL drones to support the beyond visual line of sight operations and to train several pilots for the mission.

About DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH

DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH is a 100% subsidiary of DB Netz AG and a reliable partner in system services for all aspects of railway maintenance.

With its approximately 3,000 employees, DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH is a specialist in the maintenance of vegetation along the entire German rail network, secures track construction sites of all kinds with state-of-the-art technology and supports railway projects with the delivery and removal of materials.

Across Germany, 7 branches with 36 regional service divisions manage the maintenance of around 60,000 track kilometers and the securing and supply of more than 100,000 construction sites annually.

About Quantum-Systems GmbH

Quantum-Systems GmbH, founded in Munich in 2015, specializes in the development and production of automatic transition aircrafts for a wide range of professional and civil applications. The more than 65 employees (growing) work intensively on combining reach and electrical efficiency with the ability to vertically take off and land (VTOL) without additional equipment.

Contact:
Claudia Steinhoff
csteinhoff@quantum-systems.com
+49 8105 24150 46

DRONES 02/2020 – Project FreeRail: Automated Control of the Deutsche Bahn rail network

DRONES 02/2020 – Project FreeRail: Automated Control of the Deutsche Bahn rail network

When autumn storms rage or snow masses in winter weigh heavily on rotten trees then chaos in rail traffic was often pre-programmed in recent years.
Tracks had to be closed and train connections interrupted or delayed. In order to be able to react to such incidents an automated, drone-based system called “Freerail” for vegetation monitoring will be developed.

The DRONES magazine has highlighted the current status of the FreeRail project and reports in detail in its current issue 02/20. Download the article here (German only).

The kick-off report about the scope of the project was published here in 2019. If you need further information, feel free to contact us

DRONES 02/2020 – Project FreeRail: Automated Control of the Deutsche Bahn rail network

Modernity Fund (mFUND) for project “FreeRail” approved

FreeRail Project – Automated recording of vegetation near the tracks and of storm damage along the Deutsche Bahn network with autonomously operated drones (Trinity)

The “FreeRail” project, which has been running since September 2019, will be funded under the Modernitätsfond (“mFUND“) funding directive with a total of EUR 2.82 million from 1 September 2019, 67% of which will be funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. A big step for the network coordinator Quantum-Systems GmbH and its project partners.

The project consortium consists of experts from DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH, geo-konzept GmbH, Technical University Ingolstadt and the city of Ingolstadt under the project management of the network coordinator Quantum-Systems GmbH. The starting point of the joint project “FreeRail” deals with a digital solution for a growing problem in the maintenance of the infrastructure of Deutsche Bahn (DB).

Fully automated railway inspection as one goal for the FreeRail project

Controlling and maintaining the constantly growing vegetation along DB’s 33,440 km long rail network is a time-consuming and challenging task for DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH. In order to comply with the prescribed traffic safety obligation, the vegetation along the entire route network must be inspected, documented and evaluated by qualified personnel at least once a year. At the same time, rail traffic should not be disrupted during this control work.

In the “FreeRail” project, the scientific and technical principles of a future, fully automated, drone-based system for digitized vegetation control and registration of damage following storms along Deutsche Bahn’s route network are to be developed by February 2022. On the one hand, the aim is to design and investigate the technologies and operating processes required for this. On the other hand, a functional demonstrator is to be developed and tested on a selected route section.

Trinity eVTOL UAV combined with self-contained drone hangar

With the help of a long-range drone from the Trinity UAV line from Quantum-Systems GmbH, which is capable of vertical launch, different sensor data will be collected along the test track. The drone will take off and land fully automatically from a self-sufficient drone hangar permanently stationed in the immediate vicinity of the test track. Using a special communication and data processing system, the collected data is automatically evaluated and transferred to the responsible employee of DB Fahrwegdienste GmbH.

Within the framework of traffic control and digital infrastructure management in Bavaria, the project will now receive financial support from the mFUND of the BMVI as of 01.09.2019.

With the mFUND research initiative, the BMVI has been supporting research and development projects on data-based digital applications for mobility 4.0 since 2016. In addition to financial support, the mFUND supports networking between actors from politics, business and research with various event formats, as well as access to the data portal mCLOUD. Further information can be found at www.mfund.de.

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