Demand breeds innovation, doesn’t it? On one hand, we have the concept of drones that are now commercially viable for a number of organizations and then we have landscapes of railway tracks. Combining the requirement and innovation, a group of engineers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee have developed a computer vision approach using drones and satellites to monitor railway tracks.

For ages, Indian government has been expanding railway tracks in order to formulate an adequate mode of long-distance travel for its citizens as well as goods transportation. However, manually inspecting these tracks is a tiresome job and individuals are not considered formidable to do the job accurately. It must be noted that ignorance in this area can lead to major rail accidents as well as loss of life and revenue.

The engineers have aimed to provide some automated technique for the inspection of tracks and identify loose rail fasteners, defects in clip and switches, broken or misplaced crossings, measurements between the rails, and cracks in different components.

Termed as Railtel, the innovation uses drones to apply image processing and computer vision technologies analysis and in turn formulating information regarding the true health of rail tracks. The innovation is aimed at inspecting the rail tracks with improved efficiency, objectivity, and accuracy. This will be achieved by preprocessing the data collected from drones and developing algorithms that can identify faults in the tracks reliably.

As many as 13,000 passenger trains are run by the Indian Railways on a daily basis, including short and long distance ones, employing over 1.3 million individuals.