Augmenting Reality for Safer Inspections of Railroad Infrastructure and Operations

This research project explored the use of Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of monitoring railroad inspections and operations. The proposed approach included modeling human cognition and learning processes and programming them into AR. Specific AR applications were developed for data collection during railroad inspections. This report describes the AR software, the laboratory experiments, the field tests, and the professional/scientific collaborations performed to evaluate the human factors and opportunities to explore the quantification of human cognition with railroad activities using AR. A new AR application to quantify the inspection quality, named AR for railroad attention using Eye tracking (ARRA-Eye) technology was developed. This ARRA-Eye application was designed to measure and quantify the inspector’s attention during inspection of the railroad as well as other surfaces and operations such as cracks on rail or ties. Other AR applications developed to explore the interface between the inspector and the railroad included “concrete crack”, “rail crack documenting and deployment”, “rail gauge measurer”, “AR robot control”, and “AR sensing.” The validation of the AR applications included testing by Class I railroad staff at the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus as well as a visit to Canadian National (CN) Railway headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. Other railroad interactions included collaboration with high-speed railroad engineers from Japan who visited UNM, AR testing with expert railroaders at the American Railroad Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) meeting in Denver, Colorado, and field inspections of concreate cracks with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. The interaction with industry early in the project informed the updates to the AR programming proposed for both training of new inspectors as well as its potential use for data collection in the field at moderate distances (between three and nine feet) where AR can be useful for distance measurement without the need of ladders or when it is safer to measure these distances without contact.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $100000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 43

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Railroad Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of New Mexico

  • Principal Investigators:

    Moreu, Fernando

  • Start Date: 20220000
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20230300

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01765847
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 43
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2021 4:23PM