Researchers from the University of Huddersfield and the University of Leeds have trialled AI software that is designed to make railways safer, as part of a £680,000 project called Smart Maintenance and the Rail Traveller Experience (SMaRTE).
The project encompasses two goals: assessing the reasons for passengers choosing to travel by train, and upgrading railway maintenance infrastructure. While the University of Leeds is more heavily involved in the former objective, Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research, which is based at the University of Huddersfield, is playing a ‘central role’ in the latter, according to the university.
“The conventional approach to rolling stock maintenance is to carry out scheduled (interval-based) maintenance, which includes visual inspection to check the condition of components,” said the university.
Yet this approach requires significant human effort to function, as individuals are required to visit sites, submit reports, and then read submitted reports; and the scale is growing. Peter Hughes, of Rail Technology Magazine, commented that in 2014, there were 180 reports logged per day, compared to 650 now.
To ensure all reports are responded to, SMaRTE aims to unite human experience and AI software.