Drone technology in use to aid Metro maintenance work

The Tyne and Wear Metro have recently started to use drone technology to help maintain the network with drones providing a live video-feed to an operator, who then uses special software with more accuracy than the human eye to identify any potential issues.

Steven Shiel, Head of Maintenance Delivery at Nexus, explains more: “Drone technology is really transforming how we look we look after maintenance on Tyne and Wear Metro system.  They allow us to keep tabs on all parts of our infrastructure, from tracks and overhead lines to bridges and embankments, in more a much more effective way. By sending the drone up we can inspect and survey vast stretches of the infrastructure very quickly. The advanced camera which is mounted on the drone give us more detail than we have ever had before. It allows us to pinpoint issues and plan work more effectively. It also allows us to be less reliant on our works teams having to walk large sections of the track to in order to carry out maintenance inspections. This delivers a huge boost both in terms of safety and reliability of the Metro network.”

Before drone technology was introduced it could be a laborious job to survey sections of the line. This would require a crew to physically survey the line, including extra staff to act as lookouts, and at times would need the section of line to be closed to all trains while the survey took place.

But now the drone reduces risk, cost and time whilst also providing the exact same service that using manned crews would deliver.

The drone has a pre-determined flight path with a grid applied across the route that is being surveyed. Using 3D Cloud Point technology, high resolution imagery is returned in real time which allows Nexus staff to make quick decisions on the best course of action.

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