SPAIN: A programme to use drones and 5G communications to survey rail infrastructure in Galicia has been launched by a partnership led by telecoms group Telefónica and including Huawei, ADIF and Ineco.
The initiative was awarded a grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Digital Transformation to support investment in 5G technology, and is being co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund.
The partners have established two UAV bases in Ourense and Pontevedra, with the latter using aircraft flying in Beyond Visual Line Of Sight mode.
The drones are fitted with 360º vision cameras with powerful zoom lenses capable of taking very high resolution images and a 5G modem. They are being flown along two 10 km sections of ADIF’s main line from Vigo to Ourense and Monforte de Lemos, following the Minho and Sil valleys close to the Portuguese border, taking images of infrastructure assets near Barra del Miño, Os Peares and Filgueira. The UAVs transmit the high definition images back to the two bases in real time via the newly installed 5G network.
ADIF hopes the methodology could help it to inspect remote sections of line which are otherwise difficult to access. It will also enable more rapid remedial action to be taken in the event of discovery of problems, and should reduce the overall cost of infrastructure maintenance.
Under the partnership, Telefónica was responsible for defining the project scope, Ineco configured the UAVs and the BVLOS control equipment, Huawei is the supplier of the 5G technology and data analysis system, while ADIF has worked as overall project co-ordinator.