Introducing Piper Helix, an innovative Limits Compliance and Collision Avoidance System

Introducing Piper Helix, an innovative Limits Compliance and Collision Avoidance System

Helix is a Maintenance of Way Safety Solutions Platform that combines multiple sensors to fulfill a variety of MOW functional requirements and allows for fleets of rail-bound and hi-rail equipment to be detected and tracked on the railroad. It reduces the potential for employee injury, equipment damage, and operational disruptions resulting from accidents or major rule violations.

Piper’s Helix system addresses several challenges that transit agencies and freight railroad’s face today, including Limits Compliance, Collision Avoidance, Obstacle Detection, and Collision Detection. Helix meets these functional requirements to ensure safe operation of Maintenance of Way equipment.

Limits Compliance functionality relies on Piper’s GPS RTK technology to position MOW vehicles in the territory with centimeter-level accuracy. This accuracy is critical for determining the track the vehicle is operating on and calculating the distance to the ends of the work zone. To accomplish this, Piper deploys redundant, broad coverage GPS-RTK base stations along the right of way. Piper recently deployed a comprehensive database of the entire Northeast Corridor track geometry and required only 32 base stations. In addition to determining precise track and location, this network provides fine resolution for the proximity of vehicles to various points of interest, including: interlockings, platforms, grade crossings and signals. Piper also accounts for multiple modes of MOW vehicles – continually monitoring their safe operation. To help operators perform better in the field, Piper delivers operation rules and limits from the dispatch system directly to an operator display in the cab. This display provides the operator with their work limit details and alerts the operator when the vehicle is approaching or has exceeded the limits.

Collision Avoidance

The onboard GPS RTK devices are complemented with Piper’s Ultra Wideband radio sensors located on the vehicles. These radios communicate highly accurate peer-to-peer positioning data relative to nearby MoW vehicles to prevent collisions and damage. Operators are again able to view this proximity information through the in-cab display alerts that follow the rules for safe separation of vehicles in both work and travel modes. Piper uses this same Ultra Wideband technology to deliver vital train positioning in challenging environments where GPS is not reliable, like underground tunnels or elevated tracks in congested urban settings.The solution became the world’s first SIL4 safety certified UWB system for train positioning.

Object and Worker Detection

Operators are also alerted to the presence of workers that inadvertently cross the track fouling area as well as objects that may be left in the path of the vehicles. Piper’s TrackSight is highly accurate at detecting even relatively small objects that can cause substantial damage to the vehicles.

Of course, railroads are complex networks with many installations of fixed equipment along the wayside. In order to reduce alert fatigue, Piper uses advanced algorithms that create Virtual Tunnels. Using the database created from the Virtual Tunnels, Piper distinguishes between objects that are breaching the fouling area or creating a hazard, from necessary and existing wayside infrastructure such as signal heads or gantrys.

Because it’s critical that supervisors be notified in the event of a collision, Piper has installed onboard IMU devices that provide valuable operational telemetry data for analyses and assessment, and can alert operators instantly to any collision that may occur.

Piper has also installed HD cameras that deliver live outward and inward video from each Helix equipped MoW vehicle to the foremen in real-time, and stores this data for forensic review following hazardous events.

In addition to providing this vast array of operational information to MOW vehicle operators, Piper also consolidates information for foremen and employees-in-charge who are assigned multiple vehicles from the work gang. Foreman tablets provide interfaces to monitor vehicle locations and onboard telemetry in real-time.

Piper is committed to helping you meet your safety goals. Contact us today to learn more about Piper Helix, along with our other reliably innovative transit solutions.