Rail Safety Week: The safety benefits of drones

 

With Rail Safety Week starting (25 September to 1 October), it is time to shine a spotlight on the lesser known safety benefits that drones provide.

While the commercial benefits around drone technology are sparking the imaginations of the rail industry, the technology is delivering a revolution for safety in rail.

”Local
Joan Heery, AECOM’s engineering director

Several major organisations are beginning to use drones for a broad range of applications, including survey data acquisition, asset condition assessment, construction monitoring and public consultation features.

After all, the use of drones can bring many advantages:

  • health and safety benefits and cost and time savings through removing the need to place staff in a position of risk yet also providing a visualisation tool to place people within a virtual environment for briefing and familiarisation purposes
  • technical benefits such as objective data collection, repeatability and overcoming constraints for challenging and higher risk access to difficult to reach zones
  • operational benefits through minimising disruptive access to sites

While drones can offer many safety advantages, critics of the technology believe that it cannot achieve levels of accuracy compared to traditional survey methods. However, recent results have shown otherwise. AECOM has used drone technology on projects and has achieved accuracies sufficient for design purposes.

During a drone survey of a railway depot in central London, we were able to achieve better than 15mm accuracy when the data was analysed with suitable survey control. Following the installation of ground control, the drone survey was completed in less than 6 hours flight time over an 11 hectare area.

Traditional methods would have taken eight to 10 weeks, due to the survey time required and operational constraints of the site. The drone survey also had the advantage of capturing information and measurements of track furniture, buildings and other features, not simply the ground level detail. Similar results have been achieved from surveys carried out across our rail and road networks.

As well as misconceptions around accuracy of results, there is nervousness regarding drones distracting drivers of trains and vehicles. However, drones typically operate at an altitude of greater than 50m, which removes the risk of line of sight and any distraction to drivers.

In recognition of the safety factors surrounding drone operations, AECOM has recently gained permission from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to overfly highways.

This demonstrates that the safety risks associated to drone operations over infrastructure are low.

Although the use of drones is gaining popularity in the construction industry as a cost and labour-saving tool, adoption is not widespread. It will be essential for companies to invest in this kind of technology in order to drive risk mitigation of safety incidents. At AECOM, we have used drones to capture data for over five years in the UK as part of our digital solutions.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
transport network jobs

Engineer Maintenance

Liverpool City Council
£32,233 - £37,107
Liverpool City Council are looking to recruit an Engineer Maintenance Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Tree Services Programme Manager

Nottingham City Council
£37,107
You will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the Council's trees and woods, and will provide professional advice to others Woodthorpe, Nottingham
Recuriter: Nottingham City Council

Transport Coordinator

Camden London Borough Council
£32,473 to £37,670
We have an exciting opportunity for 2 highly customer focused Transport Coordinators to work in the busy Camden Transport Team. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Highway Electrical Supervisor (Highway Maintenance)

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,657 to £28,221
The post will support two Senior Lighting Engineers in leading and contributing to the delivery of the Street Lighting function for the Authority Bootle, Merseyside
Recuriter: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

Flood Risk Management Engineer

London Borough of Bexley
£31,353 to £36,876
We are currently seeking a Flood Risk Management Engineer who will have a lead role with the Flood Risk and Development Team Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal Improvements)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal improvement projects. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal System and Operations)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal systems and operations. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Engineer (Traffic Signals)

Lincolnshire County Council
£42,806 - £49,441
Do you want to lead, manage and motivate a team of engineers working at the cutting edge of technology? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Nuisance Control Officer

Brent Council
£38,040 - £40,086 p.a. inc. + £4,800 shift allowance p.a.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Rights of Way Search Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£7,188 - £7,327 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in maintaining, developing and promoting the Definitive Map for Bridgend Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Countryside Access Maintenance Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£12,644 - £13,015 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in ensuring that the local rights of way network is protected, well maintained and enjoyed... Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Project Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £33,136
Are you a qualified Highways Project Engineer? Would you like to work in the famous James Herriot area of natural beauty? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Officer Highways and Transport

North Yorkshire County Council
£28,2281 p.a.
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Regional Strategy Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
Band 15 – up to £41,846
Are you an experienced Transport Planner? Do you have exceptional communication skills to build relationships within teams? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Area Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £53,113 p.a. winter allowance plus 10% one off additional payment for exceptional candidates
Four Area Highway Managers roles available York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Transport Planning Officer – Major Development Applications

Somerset County Council
£33,136 to £37,107
We have a fantastic opportunity in Somerset within our Highways Development Management team. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Communications Manager - North London Heat & Power Project

Camden London Borough Council
£40,028 to £46,431
We have an exciting new opportunity for an enthusiastic and talented individual to join us and be part of a team... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Commissioner for Passenger Transport Services

Somerset County Council
£45,216 per annum
You will be responsible for the development of long-term policy, strategy, plans and programmes for passenger transport Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Technician(s) / Assistant Engineer

Darlington Borough Council
£16,755 - £29,909 Annually
As part of a team you will be involved in the management and improvement of the highway network Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council