by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), one of Europe’s safest and most reliable railways, has signed an innovation partnership with Frequentis for the research of hangar-based automated drone flights in Austria.
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The partnership will focus on the prevention of railway incidents through the use of routine maintenance flights. These flights will be able to detect damage to infrastructure and potential hazards before accidents occur.
In order to contend with the challenges of implementing Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights, the ÖBB and Frequentis partnership will seek to enhance the understanding of automated drone flights and their restrictions regarding factors such as official regulations, weather, and topography. Future BVLOS flights will be conducted in line with all regulations and tested in a variety of railway-related scenarios. The partners are additionally exploring the utilization of digitalised railway operations to organize all aspects for the approval of BVLOS flights and to obtain experience handling them through an intensive trial operation that will take place over the course of the next 12 months.
“This cooperation is an important step for us. With the help of BVLOS flights, we will not only increase the safety of our facilities but will also be able to handle extra tasks more frequently and at lower cost in the future,” said Johann Pluy, Member of the Board of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG. “I am very excited about this promising cooperation with Frequentis.”
“The drone ecosystem is currently growing rapidly, with the number of commercial use cases continuously increasing,” said Frequentis CEO Norbert Haslacher. “We are pleased to join forces with our customer ÖBB to test the operational feasibility of hangar-based automated drone flights for future-oriented railway operations in Austria.”
The trial will provide Frequentis with the opportunity to gather knowledge surrounding availability, stability, regulatory requirements, and possible applications of drone hangars, all of which will be leveraged to establish a basis for additional innovations within the drone technology sector.
ÖBB intends for its cooperation with Frequentis to result in its acquisition of the necessary flight permit to allow for automated drone flights from its operations center. Upon receiving approval for trial operations, flights over ÖBB routes are planned to take place on at least a weekly basis, with the goal of acquiring knowledge to enable continuous improvement. An initial one year period of one year will see the practice of use cases such as incidents, checking route availability, forecasting and the effects of natural hazards, inspection activities, and shunting operations.
Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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