The FreeRail Project
Autonomously operated drones collect data and accurate recordings to inspect vegetation and storm damage along the Deutsche Bahn railway network
- Railway network with approx. 34,000 km nationwide
- At least once a year inspection on foot, with documentation and evaluation of the vegetation condition
- Increasingly severe weather events due to climate change
Time-consuming and challenging tasks during ongoing rail operations
The solution / FreeRail
- Collecting various sensor data along the test route with the help of a vertical takeoff capable drone
- The drone takes off and lands automatically from a self-sufficient drone hangar that is permanently stationed within the immediate vicinity of the test track
- With a special communication and data processing system, the collected data is automatically evaluated and the results are sent to the dedicated DB employee
The challenges ahead
Automated target approach
The drone will be equipped with an infrared-based final approach navigation system to precisely approach the hangar-side gripper arm
Self adjusting gripper
A spring structure, which is still to be researched, will allow the latching elements of the gripper arm to approach the final latching point in a kind of funnel, where they will then latch with spring support
Safe design of autonomously operated drones
BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flights require a high level of autonomy, safety and emergency procedures
Photogrammetric image analysis
Development of algorithms that can perform an analysis of vegetation or damage scenarios from aerial photographs in an automated manner
Our goals for FreeRail
The conceptual design and investigation of the required technologies and operating processes
To further develop the scientific and technical fundaments for the future of a fully automated drone base system which is able to digitalise the use of data for vegetation control and damages after severe weather events across Deutche Bahns rail network
Showcase a functional system for testing within specific zones on the route network
The FreeRail project partners
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
We are working on building the foundations of the FreeRail project with the combination of the high and fast degree of automation in connection with the legal and regulatory permits enabling us to fly over long distances (BVLOS).
This will provide key pre-requsites for future widespread use of this integral overall system.
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 at the highest quality.
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.
Thank you for your interest in our products & services. Given the number of inquiries, please note that the screening and evaluation of your inquiry will be conducted on the basis of the information provided. You are therefore kindly requested to provide complete and accurate information pertaining, but not limited to envisaged mission profile(s), geographical area of operation, end-user information, choice of sensor(s), and other relevant operational requirements in the respective field. Fields marked with an * are mandatory.