Fighting fog with technology
Since all available means have failed to run trains smoothly in dense fog, Indian Railways are now considering night-vision goggles and cameras to make drivers see signals and tracks in zero-visibility conditions, reports Avishek G Dastidar.delhi Updated: Dec 30, 2008 23:31 IST
Since all available means have failed to run trains smoothly in dense fog, Indian Railways are now considering night-vision goggles and cameras to make drivers see signals and tracks in zero-visibility conditions.
Hit by fog across North India on Tuesday, around 60 long-distance trains arrived late in Delhi for the fourth consecutive day adding to continued plight of passengers.
“Talks are on between private companies and our engineers. The challenge is that there is no model to emulate across the world. It will be a new technology to run trains in fog. In another week or so, we will have an outline,” said Sukhbir Singh, Member-Electrical, Railway Board.
Based either on “Image Amplification” technique or the next-generation “Infrared Thermal Imaging” technique used in night vision instruments, the initial idea is to have a screen in front of the driver and lighting along the tracks to facilitate the system.
There could also be special lens to focus on infrared emitted by objects and a detector to decode that into images for the driver. Signals could also be newly designed to aid this system.
But this is not final yet, as Railways are mulling over several types of applications within this technology.
The difficult part was to decide whether to give the driver a set of especially designed night-vision glasses to simplify the technology. “But we are not in favour of such an approach because the driver should not be stressed with accessories,” Singh said.
For years the railways have been toying with high-tech ideas to run trains in dense fog without success. A GPS-based device developed last year to fight fog was never commissioned.
A few years ago, IIT-Kanpur was developing a similar technology for railways without much success.