Fiber-Optic Vibration Sensors Could Prevent Train Accidents

Researchers have developed new sensors for measuring acceleration and vibration on trains. The technology could be integrated with artificial intelligence to prevent railway accidents and catastrophic train derailments.

“Each year, train accidents lead to severe injuries and even deaths,” said research team leader Hwa-yaw Tam, from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “Our fiber accelerometers could be used for real-time monitoring of defects in the railway track or the train to pinpoint problems before an accident occurs.”

The researchers describe their new accelerometers in The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express. The devices can detect frequencies more than double that of traditional fiber-optic accelerometers, making them suitable for monitoring wheel-rail interactions. The durable sensors include no moving parts and work well in the noisy and high-voltage environments found in railway applications.

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