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Ultrasound Diagnostic Railway Car with Basler scout GigE Cameras for Synchronized Visual Inspection

The inspection of railway tracks on a regular basis is key to ensuring the safety of rail transportation. Among the many examination techniques employed by modern railway companies, ultrasound (US) nondestructive testing is an especially good method. It is nonintrusive, cost effective, relatively easy to engineer, and easy to automate. The automated system benefits greatly if it is coupled with another testing method based on visual inspection via a digital camera.

Producing a highly capable diagnostic railroad car is a demanding technical challenge. Due to the high vibration level of the car, area scan cameras must be used, and to limit the linear motion blur, a very short exposure time is required. Ultrasound cars are driven in every weather condition imaginable from early spring to late autumn, in heavy sunlight or in rain, and sometimes at night.

Three Polish companies, Ultramet, Cilantro, and Avicon, cooperated with the Polish Railway Center for Diagnostics to address the technical challenges outlined above and achieve the successful implementation of an ultrasound testing car. The Basler scout GigE cameras proved to be particularly well suited for such an application. The results meet the required inspection criteria and help to ensure the safety of anyone riding the Polish rails.

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