Automatic Quality Assessment of Train Pantographs

Pantobot is a software system for automatic quality assessment of train pantographs, being PAVISYS, a set of vision-based algorithms, its core. The system processes images acquired from trains crossing remote monitoring stations at full speed. Its objective is to enable predictive maintenance and enhance railway safety.




During extensive validation on Italian high-speed railway line in operative conditions, Pantobot allowed to reduce the workload of human supervisors by more than 80% and it detected 100% of broken or damaged pantographs.

Its aims

  • To reduce the maintenance cost due to serious damages on the catenary system caused by anomalies on the pantograph.
  • To reduce the maintenance cost due to higher friction between pantograph and catenary caused by time-worn strips.

  • To provide an efficient system to the railway company to monitor the quality of the “rolling stock”.

Main features

  • Easy to install as a centralized or distributed service.

  • Easy automatic calibration on existing acquisition stations.

  • Remotely operated using a web-service interface without being dependent on the hardware or software.

Goals achieved

  • 1st fully operational pantograph inspection system obeying the TE070 RFI standard.

  • 1st installation on “TAV” (high speed trains).

  • More than 99% correctly classified models.

  • 80% workload reduction in human inspection.

  • Operational in the DSS (Decision Support System) mode with an automatic warning system on 3 levels.

  • The different environmental conditions in which the tests have been carried out show that Pantobot is robust and reliable.




In detailPAVISYS

The core of the system (PAVISYS, initially developed at University of Parma, Italy) for the inspection of the pantographs images is able to:

  1. Recognize and classify the model of the pantograph.
  2. Classify the material on contact strips.
  3. Analyze the degree of wear and tear over the strips.
  4. Check if the structure of the pantograph is correctly in touch with the catenary.
  5. Analyze if the horns of the pantograph are damaged.

Thanks to its “plug-in” architecture the system can be easily extended to include other kind of analysis.


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