Pole Detection

Knowing the exact poles’ position

Railway companies usually do not determine the positioning of infrastructure or the indication of critical areas on the basis of GPS data. Instead, the poles installed along the railway line serve as a reference. Although the poles are apparently simple objects, their precise detection and assignment – especially from moving measuring platforms – poses a challenge: Camera images are not sharp enough and do not distinguish poles from other vertical structures such as trees or signs. In addition, many different types of poles are installed. Fraunhofer IPM therefore relies on laser-based sensors for pole recognition.

Laser Pole Detection
© Fraunhofer IPM
Exemplary measurement performed by Laser Pole Detection System LPS on a section of 2 kilometers.

Laser Pole Detection System LPS

The LPS detects and counts poles along railroad tracks. It consists of two acquisition units with two laser distance sensors mounted in pairs, which are installed to the left and right side of the roof of the inspection car, close to the bogie. The entire system therefore relies on a total of four distance measurement modules – and with this special arrangement distinguishes reliably between poles, contact wires or power lines. The LPS measures optically, and thus contactlessly, at travelling speeds of up to 250 km/h. Thanks to an active lighting unit, the LPS does not require daylight and is therefore able to operate reliably in tunnels, under bridges, or at night.

If required, the measurement data of the LPS supplement the status data obtained with other measurement systems with precise position information. This enables railway companies to quickly locate damaged sections in the rail network.

Keeping the entire overhead line in view

LPS is also available as part of the Contact Wire Inspection System (CIS). This multi-sensor system combines technologies for measuring contact wire wear and contact wire position in one system