The Grenoble tram is testing smart cameras for rail maintenance

You have probably seen it pass through the streets of Grenoble this Wednesday, October 26, a big yellow truck driving on the tram tracks. It is not a new mode of public transport but a maintenance operation carried out with new tools. Thanks to a technology developed by the Lyon-based company Viapix System, a scan of the tram rails is carried out. At the rear of the truck are fixed two cameras pointing to the tram tracks.

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An inertial unit on the roof of the truck will also scan the surroundings of the Grenoble tramway network.
© Radio France

Theo Boscher

These are two digital cameras that will project a laser line across the roadway and by optical analysis, they will identify all the deformations and cracks in the rail, to an accuracy of a tenth of a millimeter, which could over time generate works and maintenance for the M’Tag teams“, explains Clément Gutierrez, the technical director of Viapix. It’s been twenty years that Viapix uses this method on the road but it is a first on a tram network.

Anticipate cracks

In addition to more than 90 kilometers of rail, traffic signs and network traffic lights are also scanned. “It is a major innovation that integrates digital vision, lasers, an inertial unit and artificial intelligence to qualify the state of the network and its equipment.“, sums up Marc Desthieux, CEO of Viapix.

One of the cameras that will analyze the condition of the rails of the Grenoble tramway network, Wednesday October 26, 2022
© Radio France

Theo Boscher

The first rails of the network were laid in 1987. Even if they can last almost thirty years, it is necessary to be vigilant from fifteen or twenty years, especially in the sectors most exposed to wear such as curves and common trunks. This solution saves time for Christine Rochex, technical director of M’Tag: “Until now, we were doing a track tour with a single person responsible for walking the entire network for a month, but with less precision with the human eye.

Data processing will only take a week and if necessary, M’Tag will be able to consider work during dedicated periods, next summer. “The idea is to manage to see things before they are too degraded and avoid inconveniences like last year on the Scientific Peninsula with a broken rail and a collapse of the platform“, adds Christine Rochex.

The purpose is also to limit traffic disruptions for users by planning bus diversions if necessary or by planning work at night.

The Viapix company’s rail analysis system is attached to the back of a maintenance truck for M’Tag, the Grenoble transport network.
© Radio France

Theo Boscher

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The Grenoble tram is testing smart cameras for rail maintenance


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