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Smart Transportation

  1. Jun 8, 2009 #1


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    This a hybrid subject which combines mechanical, civil, electrical engineering and computer science/engineering. Sensors combined with networks combined with intelligent systems, which include logistical software, which is basically process control will provide the framework.

    A friend who works at IBM passed called my attention to it.

    Smarter Railroads
    Embedded intelligence, analytics and optimization are reshaping the granddaddy of the transportation industry

    The smarter railroad - An opportunity for the railroad industry
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  3. Jun 10, 2009 #2


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    A long time ago (20 years?) I saw what, iirc, was a 60 Minutes piece about the death of the caboose (and layoff of the union workers manning them), being replaced by a small electronics package. I remember the a somewhat lamenting tone to the piece, and such a thing really irritates me. The US has a culture that (seemingly paradoxically) clings to anachronisms and rests on its laurels and this is part of the reason we are falling behind in a lot of areas (see: the auto industry).

    Trainis are forever going to be a major component of our transportation system and we must continue to optimize them with technology.
  4. Jun 10, 2009 #3


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    That might have been 20 years ago. But cabooses began disappearing about 30 years ago, and that trend accelerated during the early 80's and was essentially complete by 1985/1986. This coincided with the deregulation during the Reagan administration.

    The technology had advanced to the point that it made no sense to have a caboose. The conductor was moved to the locotive and crew sizes were decreased from 4 or 5 down to 2 or 3.
  5. Jun 10, 2009 #4
    Good articles Astronuc. I work at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. which is a laboratory where the railroads develop new products. The engineers and scientists at TTCI developed some of the products mentioned in the article such as the one to monitor acoustic signatures.

    http://www.aar.com/products_services-vehicle_monitoring_systems.htm#TADS [Broken]

    The cabooses were replaced with the End Of Train device. This is a radio transmitter that monitors the air pressure generated at the engine and passed by a hose through all the cars to the last one where the EOT is located. That air pressure keeps the brakes on all the cars released. If a coupling should break, the air pressure is lost, all the breaks are applied and the EOT signals the engine of the loss of pressure.

    The railroads are working towards a one man crew.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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