Autonomous Drone for railroad track inspection


Reference #: 01564

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for Autonomous Drone for railroad track inspection


The current practices suffer from three main drawbacks: 1) Human pilot cost is significant. The schedule of the drone-based track inspection is contingent on the pilot’s availability rather than that of drones or tracks. Also, the images collected by different pilots at the same track segment could vary and depend on the pilots’ operation. 2) The inspection route is subjective. Because the drones are controlled by the pilots, the performance of the inspection route depends on the skill, experience, and judgment of the pilot. 3) Upon image acquisition in field, it needs to be transferred back to a data center for analysis. The delay between data collection, data processing, and decision-making depreciates the value of the inspections because track conditions can quickly deteriorate as traffic accumulates.

Invention Description:

This invention does not need a pilot to control the drone. The drone will be fully autonomous and fly itself to go along the railroad track to perform track inspection work.

Potential Applications:

Track inspection complying with FAA regulations.

Advantages and Benefits:

The proposed system will be fully autonomous, no human pilot is needed, saves personnel time and cost. Also, the inspection results do not rely on the pilot's skill and experience. The proposed system does not rely on GPS or other extra navigation systems.


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Yu Qian
Yi Wang
Chen Chen
autonomous drone
flight control
image processing
railroad track inspection
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