New Accelerometers Enable All-Optical Sensing Networks

To detect train acceleration and vibration, researchers have created new sensors. The technology could be combined with artificial intelligence to stop serious train derailments and rail mishaps. According to the researchers, railway accidents cause serious injuries and occasionally yearly fatalities. The fiber optic accelerometers could detect real-time issues with the train or railway track and prevent accidents.

The devices are ideal for monitoring wheel-rail interactions because they detect frequencies twice as high as conventional accelerometers. The sturdy sensors are devoid of moving parts and perform well in the high-voltage, noisy environments typical of railway uses. With the aid of these systems, scheduled railway maintenance procedures that are ineffective and expensive can be replaced with predictive maintenance based on real conditions.

An all-optical sensing network has many benefits, including extended transmission distance, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and sensor independence. However, fiber-optic sensors tailored to monitor various parameters in railway systems are required.

Since they are built on fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs), the fiber-optic accelerometers commonly used in condition monitoring systems cannot detect vibrations above 500 Hz. Though sufficient for most railway uses, this cannot be used to gauge the wheel-rail interactions, a significant contributor to track wear.

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