Digital Transit recently took a trip to the Institute of Railway Research at Huddersfield University for a business development meeting, as well as to see their new robotics facilities. A tour was given by Prof. Gareth Tucker, a specialist in vehicle-track interaction.
Previously Digital Transit have made use of the facilities at the IRR, specifically the THOMoS high fidelity motion simulator, and are looking to collaborate in the future utilising the Pantograph test rig.
The IRR now has a new facility, which simulates a train maintenance depot. It is equipped with two large KUKA robotic arms, which have pinpoint accuracy and 7 degrees of freedom. These arms can be equipped with a multitude of equipment. One is currently equipped with a LIDAR sensor, allowing it to fully map out the bogie currently in the ‘depot’.
Underneath the bogie is another, smaller robotic arm. Because it is smaller, it is safer to use whilst people are present, and so can be easily programmed and tested in situ.
In the future Digital Transit hope to work on innovative projects alongside the IRR, which may include automatically cleaning the underside of diesel trains, and inspecting train bogeys for defects using machine vision.