Infrastructure Monitoring for Gradual Damage Detection from an In-Service Light Rail Vehicle

Infrastructure monitoring for gradual damage detection from an in-service light rail vehicle

Globally, infrastructure is a vital asset for economic prosperity. However, condition assessments to ensure the continued safe operation of these assets tend to be subjective and infrequent. The project team is developing a low-cost, objective method to continuously monitor rail systems from the vibrations recorded in a passing train as a complement to traditional inspection techniques. With previous support from the University Transportation Center, the project team has established a long-term monitoring project with the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The team has developed and deployed a robust automatic data acquisition and management system. Through this deployment they have been testing and refining their technique. The project team has instrumented two of Pittsburgh’s light rail vehicles and have been monitoring the rail system from the vibrations in the operational vehicle over the last three years. The team's long-term objective is to provide accurate, rapid, nearly continuous assessments of the tracks, track structures and bridges along the line as cost-efficiently as possible. The project team already has obtained useful results, as they have been able to detect discrete changes in the recorded signals after construction activity on both the track and ballast. The team has also developed a systematic method of data analysis to fuse data from multiple instrumented vehicles, and better detect changes in the condition of the rail/track system, and, thus, provide better insights for the Port Authority on high-priority maintenance issues. The project team's next immediate challenge is to develop suitable algorithms that will enable their monitoring system to detect small gradual continuous degradation in the rail/track system. This is a key step for making the monitoring system a practical damage detection tool. In addition, even though the team has recorded vehicle motion as it moves along the entire track, until now, they have analyzed only data recorded on parts of the line that are supported on firm ground. During the course of the proposed project, the project team plans to begin analyzing also data from the vehicles as they traverse bridges within the line. Ultimately, the team's goal is to develop an infrastructure asset management technology that can serve not only the Port Authority of Allegheny County but also infrastructure owners for a variety of transportation modes. Through this improved maintenance technology, this project will enable safer more efficient transportation.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation University Transportation Center

      Carnegie Mellon University
      Pittsburgh, PA  United States  15213

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Carnegie Mellon University

      Pittsburgh, PA  United States 
    • Performing Organizations:

      Carnegie Mellon University

      Pittsburgh, PA  United States 
    • Principal Investigators:

      Bielak, Jacobo

    • Start Date: 20170101
    • Expected Completion Date: 20180730
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
    • Source Data: Safety planning for all users

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01645840
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation University Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT13GUTC26
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: Sep 6 2017 6:32PM