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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?


Date: 08/12/19 10:38
Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: Lackawanna484

The NY Times has an article about the world series of drone racing.  In which drones, piloted remotely, zip through narrow shafts / gates, dive toward earth, move sharply, etc. Artifical Intelligence, shaped by drone operators.

The topic is of considerable interest to real life pilots, as they consider prudent risk taking.  It might be of interest to railroad engineers and conductors, too.  A drone, flying two thousand feet ahead of a train, observing the track from 30 feet up, looking for present and potential obstacles trackside.  Not unlike a pilot in Texas or Nevada, guiding her Predator drone halfway around the world.

Whether this is an interim step for railroads (train operator plus drone), or  the next big thing will be interesting to observe. And, for the guy with a pickup truck and a supply of knuckles and air hoses...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/technology/alphapilot-ai-drone-racing.html



Date: 08/12/19 10:56
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: callum_out

Only one question, why?

Out



Date: 08/12/19 11:12
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: flarails882

No,

Better question who receives the ground level CCTV feed from a 'trouble' railroad crossing? The crew or dispatch?
I'm not talking about the feed from a drone, Just a ground level camera.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/19 11:14 by flarails882.



Date: 08/12/19 12:52
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: engineerinvirginia

callum_out Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Only one question, why?
>
> Out

And more to the point....why do you want to kill my job? Don't do a new thing just because it might be possible....think first about who it will hurt. 



Date: 08/12/19 13:26
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: TAW

engineerinvirginia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> callum_out Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Only one question, why?
> >
> > Out
>
> And more to the point....why do you want to kill
> my job? Don't do a new thing just because it might
> be possible....think first about who it will
> hurt. 

I don't see it as your job being hurt. In the dim, dark past, that was done by guys on a motorcar running ahead of trains. They were generally taken off long ago as unnecessary. That trains run into stuff that the motorcar guy would have seen (or heard coming) was considered irrelevant.

The idea appears to be a drone flying at stopping distance ahead of the train to take the place of the motorcar guy. The question is Who will fly the drone?

You're going to be too busy running the train. The guy on the other side of the cab is supposed to be helping you look out the window. You are both responsible for what's on the other side of the glass.

If the drone pilot is in a bunker somewhere, such pilot will need to know where your train is so that the drown can be flown at stopping distance ahead. I suppose that could be accomplished by the GPS part of PTC. We all know how reliable that is. But the other detail is, who is going to look at the monitor to be sure that nothing is missed. You will have to see it yourself and you don't' have time to look if you're looking out the window. There isn't time for a bunker guy to see something and call you before it is too late to stop.

Maybe the drone pilot could be on the engine. You and the C could be looking out the real window and not missing anything while the pilot is flying and watching the monitor. Of course, the pilot would also have to be qualified on what is hazardous to a train in order to call it immediately upon seeing it. However the drone pilot needs to be paying attention to flying, the distraction of flying causing the pilot to miss some hazard on the ground. That means that the drone pilot will need an observer.

Looks like the drone will put two more folks in the cab, requiring lots of cab modifications. That will be more work for folks. Uh oh...more work for folks? It probably won't happen (or it will be done - in one half fast way or another).

TAW



Date: 08/12/19 14:12
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: alco244

drones are toys, every manager wants one to play with to entrap crews, as far as a 3rd person in the cab, it will be another distraction, looking at a screen for 12 hrs?, how fast will the operator fall asleep?, how long will it stay aloft on a nice day, now throw in in a blizzard, heavy rain, and 12 hrs, yup, just a toy, sounds like a answer to a really nonexistence problem



Date: 08/12/19 14:23
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: milepost180

I'm licensed in the US  and Canada to fly drones.  I spend my weekends ripping freestyle. Go to YouTube to see what that is.  Got to meet the pilot that flew the train and bridge video.  He said it was not going that fast.  Got into drones so I could photograph trains.  This led me to racing and freestyle.  Drones have many applications that haven't been imagined.  You can even put an opposing teams sticker on the owners 100th floor penthouse window!  It will have to be professionally removed.  As much as I like dones, the pay scale to fly one in front of the engine would be more than the engineer makes and that should be enough to kill that idea.  Besides like was already stated.  Why?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/19 14:23 by milepost180.



Date: 08/12/19 14:30
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: towazy

Your “job” was responsible for the loss of thousands of other jobs. How many canal boat captains are left for example? It’s called progress. Adapt like the millions before you. 

    Tom



engineerinvirginia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> callum_out Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Only one question, why?
> >
> > Out
>
> And more to the point....why do you want to kill
> my job? Don't do a new thing just because it might
> be possible....think first about who it will
> hurt. 



Date: 08/12/19 15:00
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: The-late-EMD

Autonomous freight trains already exit in Australia. Like RCO switchers it's only a matter of time for it to be tried in North America.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/12/19 17:21
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: callum_out

Yes autonomous trains run in Australia, find me the same set of territory here and I'll say it'd
be a good idea here,

Out



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/19 19:53 by callum_out.



Date: 08/12/19 18:04
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: HH

milepost180 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As much as I like dones, the pay scale to fly one in front of the engine
> would be more than the engineer makes and that should be enough to kill that idea.  Besides like
> was already stated.  Why?

Seems to me a robotic 'motor car' would be a LOT simpler and cheaper!  And it won't fall out of the sky in a contrary wind or storm.

Hopmere Hank
 



Date: 08/12/19 20:10
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: The-late-EMD

callum_out Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes autonomous trains run in Australia, find me
> the same set of territory here and I'll say it'd
> be a good idea here,
>
> Out
The bnsf Transcon route. The u P Donner pass, blue mountains, the la&sl route, just about anywhere in Canada, etc etc, etc.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/12/19 20:59
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: SP4360

Nice one Tom lol

towazy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Your “job” was responsible for the loss of
> thousands of other jobs. How many canal boat
> captains are left for example? It’s called
> progress. Adapt like the millions before you. 
>
>     Tom
>
>
>
> engineerinvirginia Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > callum_out Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > Only one question, why?
> > >
> > > Out
> >
> > And more to the point....why do you want to
> kill
> > my job? Don't do a new thing just because it
> might
> > be possible....think first about who it will
> > hurt. 



Date: 08/13/19 06:16
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: ns1000

The-late-EMD Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> callum_out Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Yes autonomous trains run in Australia, find me
> > the same set of territory here and I'll say
> it'd
> > be a good idea here,
> >
> > Out
> The bnsf Transcon route. The u P Donner pass, blue
> mountains, the la&sl route, just about anywhere in
> Canada, etc etc, etc.
>
> Posted from Android

Let us HOPE NOT....??!!

We are too dependant on technology for our own good.  Just ask how great PTC, Trip Optimizer, etc. is....???!!???



Date: 08/13/19 10:52
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: toledopatch

rantoul Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Need a nationwide transportation policy beginning
> with grade separation of all road/street &
> railroad crossings.  The railroad industry (Wall
> Street, et al) will never do it; society (federal,
> state, local governments) should.  Would have to
> permanently close about 80% of today's crossings
> and realign the roads/streets to the 20% remaining
> overpass / underpass....actually an economic
> stimulus as construction occurs and business
> adapts to the new travel routes.  PS this type of
> mandate was already done once, smaller scale,
> central Chicago about 100 years ago.  With grade
> separation would come a new railroad, albeit with
> fewer on board crews and less rail side interest.

I hope your suggestion, should it ever come to pass, would only apply to mainline tracks. It would be ridiculous to replace or close every crossing on every industrial lead or spur -- something Chicago certainly never attempted even when some of its lines were grade-separated, nor did the New Haven RR when it eliminated crossings on its main lines between New York and New Haven.



Date: 08/13/19 19:18
Re: Could a drone + "pilot" run a locomotive?
Author: DavidP

engineerinvirginia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> And more to the point....why do you want to kill
> my job? Don't do a new thing just because it might
> be possible....think first about who it will
> hurt. 

Hey, you could work work from home.....run your train from your couch, your deck, the throne....what’s not to love about that?  :-)

Dave



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