Protran and Johns Hopkins University develop unmanned rail inspection robot

Protran and Johns Hopkins University develop unmanned rail inspection robot

Harsco Corporation’s Protran Technology unit are partnering with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to introduce a new, unmanned vehicle that can perform traditional railway safety and security operations.

The Instrumented Rail inspection System (IRis) is the product of research work funded by the Transportation Security Administration at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which included live tests in both overground and underground metro systems.

IRiS drives along rail tracks and can perform security inspections and first-response work, significantly reducing the risk of human injury.

The IRiS features near-infrared video and photographic capability, and is operated remotely from a portable station from which the vehicle can be controlled and telemetry reviewed and analysed. The unit can accommodate various sensors to expand its capabilities to include chemical, radiation and optical detection, making IRiS especially valuable in the case of bomb threats, fires, or natural disasters. Unlike some large-scale inspection systems, the IRiS is quick and easy to mount, helping to reduce potential disruption to scheduled services.

Under its agreement with the Applied Physics Laboratory, Protran Technology will make the IRiS platform commercially available throughout Harsco’s extensive network of railway and urban transit system customers, as well as to potential adjacent markets such as the transportation and mining industries, where similar access, observation and incident-response needs also exist.

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