The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) Office of Research and Development has undertaken a multi-phase research program focused on the development and advancement of Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement Systems (ATGMS) and related technologies to improve rail safety by increasing the availability of track geometry data for safety and maintenance planning purposes. Benefits of widespread use of ATGMS technology include reduced life-cycle cost of inspection operations, minimized interference with revenue operations, and increased inspection frequencies.
FRA’s Office of Research and Development ATGMS research program results have demonstrated that the paradigm of track inspection and maintenance practices, information management and, eventually, government regulations will change as a result of widespread use of ATGMS technology by the industry. A natural consequence of increased inspection frequencies associated with ATGMS is the large amount of actionable information produced. Therefore, changing existing maintenance practices to address a larger number of identified track issues across large geographic areas will be a challenge for the industry. In addition, managing ATGMS data and assessing the quality of this information in a timely manner will be challenging.
This paper presents an overview of the FRA’s ATGMS research program with emphasis on its evolution from a proof-of-concept prototype to a fully operational measurement system. It presents the evolution of ATGMS technology over time including the development of a web-based application for data editing, management and quality assurance. Finally, it presents FRA’s vision for the future of the ATGMS technology.