Railroad Track Inspector Wearable Technology Interface

Conducting railroad track safety inspections requires constant vigilance to detect defects that could have dangerous consequences. It also requires information to be received and sent during the execution of the inspection task. A Wearable Technology Interface (WTI) could prove helpful in supporting hands-free, eyes-on-task communications for railroad track inspection work. In Phase 1 of this research effort which started in December 2014, Syntek Technologies, Inc., (STI) successfully demonstrated a WTI for a railroad track inspection task in a laboratory environment. In Phase 2 that started in April 2016, STI selected an appropriate WTI technology, conducted a Task Analysis for track inspection work, developed the necessary software and testing scenarios, and conducted a Field Validation Experiment with the WTI in a realistic work environment. The WTI tested was a breadboard version of the Syntek Wearable Technology System (SWTS). The Buckingham Branch Railroad (BBRR) conducted a 3-day experiment near Charlottesville, VA. Two BBRR track inspectors participated in the experiment. The first day was for training. The subsequent two days were for testing in a hi-rail vehicle and while walking along the tracks. Tests were conducted on tangents, curves and turnouts, on both Class 2 and 3 Tracks. Altogether 15 track inspection scenarios and functions were tested in 48 trials using the breadboard version of the WTI. The WTI performed well in the Field Validation Experiment. It successfully supported the data exchange needs of actual track inspectors working on an operational railroad. The WTI was positively regarded by the track inspectors, with the general belief that it would add value to their work. Especially beneficial were the hands-free, eyes-on-task communications capability, the automatic generation of track inspection reports, and the use of a relational database. The main problem was insufficient time allotted to train the WTI speech engine to recognize a new voice. The next stage of development will correct this problem. This next prototype version will have custom applications running on the cellphone and smart glasses. These applications will significantly reduce the number and length of track inspector voice interactions with the WTI, dramatically increasing the reliability and efficiency of the user interface.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Photos; References;
  • Pagination: 4p
  • Serial:
    • Research Results
    • Issue Number: RR 18-01
    • Publisher: Federal Railroad Administration
  • Publication flags:

    Open Access (libre)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01665774
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2018 9:12AM