IITians design anti-derailment device
UPDATE: [14th Nov, 2011] The device got covered again! This time by the prestigious economic times.
MOMS the track health monitoring system built by us at IITK got covered by The Tribune India. Here is the full length article. To read more about the gadget go to http://momsiitk.wordpress.com/moms/ or write to Kshitij Deo the guy behind it all.
New Delhi, October 28
Rail travel is all set to become safer in the future, thanks to a cutting-edge anti-derailment technology developed by young IITians.
The technology called MEMS (micro electro mechanical system)-based Oscillation Monitoring System (MOMS) will monitor the health of railway tracks across India and record real-time data on track fitness as trains move, helping the authorities locate faults and repair them urgently. The system will also sound an alarm when it records vibrations beyond a threshold limit, thereby preventing possible derailments.
So far, the Indian Railways has been using bogies fitted with measurement instruments based on vibration sensing of the train coach floor to detect faults. But these bogies are limited. Hence, reviews happen after unacceptably long breaks.
Saturated rail tracks have already seen several accidents. This morning, three bogies of the Howrah-Delhi Kalka Mail derailed, though no one was injured.
The latest system, designed by IIT Kanpur in collaboration with the Railways’ Research Designs and Standards Organization, Lucknow, is a new-generation, fully automated, cost-effective and ultra-portable device that can help prevent derailments, improve passenger safety and reliability of data recording.
“The device is the size of a matchbox weighing 100 gm and can be easily mounted on the floor of a railway bogie using adhesive tape. It has a very high track-fault location accuracy of up to 20m on ground, a pluggable microSD card for continuous recording of vibrations and GPS locations up to two weeks.
“We have given it a built-in battery with USB-charging facility and a battery backup of nine hours,” said Kshitij Deo, IIT-Kanpur pass out and one of the four student developers of MOMS today.
The device also has an advanced feature for locating faults on the track. “When switched to the retrace mode, it reads the previously recorded jerk location. If the location of any of the previously recorded faults is within 200m radius of the device, it sounds an alarm with increasing intensity as the location nears,” Kshitij said, just days after Infosys founder Narayan Murthy cast doubts on the calibre of IITians.
The Railways has successfully tested the device on Shatabdi and Rajdhani along major routes and plans to float tenders to procure it. India has about 14,000 trains.
“In the initial phase, the Railways will procure one or two devices per train before expanding the project further,” Kshitij said.
He, however, clarified that the alarms that the device raises are meant to be read by railway personnel deployed to monitor them and are not for passengers. The system has wireless connectivity over bluetooth for data display during runtime.
“The device has audio-visual indicators for easy observation during runtime. Data recorded on its SD card can be retrieved by reading the card on a computer. It can be analysed for performing predictive maintenance, leading to a better riding experience. Once fitted on trains, the Railways will know which track requires what maintenance,” Kshitij said.
The project began in 2010, the year when a parliamentary panel on railway passenger safety noted that routine government announcements to introduce new trains without proper assessment of tracks had compromised safety standards. Last year, India had seen 15 rail accidents.