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Laser triangulation sensors measure lateral position of rail bogie wheels

30 June 2020

Laser triangulation sensors from Micro-Epsilon are being used to measure the lateral position of rail bogie wheels relative to the railhead in a rail traction technology project by SET Limited.

ActiWheel is a traction system that uses artificial intelligence to guide trains along the tracks – enabling quicker, smoother and more economical rail travel. The solution could dramatically change the way that rail vehicles run on the railway. As Martin Whitley, Director at SET Limited, explains, “This revolutionary wheel motor can be controlled to produce more driving force on one side or the other in order to steer the wheelset down the centreline of the track. For the last 200 years, conventional rail vehicles have only had a solid axle and wheel coning providing this capability, which drives some significant compromises and issues. What we want to do is to see this technology implemented as the technology of choice for rail passenger vehicles of the future.”

In the ActiWheel solution, the motor is integrated into the wheel, which means there is no transmission between the two and no moving parts beyond a bearing which every wheel and axle has. In addition, there are no friction braking systems, so there would be a significant reduction in the amount of maintenance required.

Neil Cooney, Technical Director at SET Limited, comments, “One of the biggest issues facing the rail infrastructure is Rolling Contact Fatigue [RCF], which occurs due to the energy in the contact between the wheel and the rail. Conditions under the contact patch are always severe and the yield stress of the rail wheel is always exceeded, on at least a microscale.

Read the full article in the July issue of DPA.

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