New rail-inspection drone can both fly and drive on the track

The inspection and maintenance of the railway industry are very important. But such inspections are usually conducted at night or when there is no planned traffic, meaning there is a lack of consistent data that maps out the current state of the railway.

Norwegian company Nordic Unmanned has developed a Staaker BG-300 Railway Drone, a unique robot that can inspect critical parts of the railway infrastructure whilst driving on the track. The drone can function both as an unmanned aerial vehicle and unmanned ground vehicle while performing the maintenance and inspection of the railway tracks.

The railway drone will autonomously fly to the side of the track and let traffic pass.
The railway drone will autonomously fly to the side of the track and let traffic pass. Credit: Nordic Unmanned

When a train arrives, it autonomously flies off the tracks to avoid any dangerous situation. Not just that, the drone can also switch from one railway track to another to give way to oncoming traffic and switch to alternative tracks – ensuring zero disturbance to the regular traffic. The sensors onboard the robot automatically detects changes on the railway whilst providing a live data feed to decision-makers.

The Staaker BG-300 Railway Drone uses energy from hydrogen fuel cells and can operate on the railway for around 7 hours with an average speed of 20 km/h (12 mph). The drone can cover more than 200 km (124 miles) of rail in one mission. The Railway Drone inspects critical parts of the railway and its surroundings whilst driving on the track, collecting data with state-of-the-art cameras and sensors attached.

The company expects to start delivering full commercial services with The Staaker BG-300 Railway Drone in the first half of 2022 in Europe.

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