Currently, throughout Europe, railway maintenance and renewal work is carried out by manual workers and human-operated on-track machines, with the quality of the work being closely related to the compliance, diligence, experience and competence of individual workers. Some of the tools used by the manual workers are heavy, requiring significant physical effort, which over time can have a detrimental effect on the human body, while machine operators are constantly subject to a varying degree of cognitive burden, which undermines the safety, quality, repeatability, and productivity of their work. These factors, combined with the trends of a rapidly ageing workforce and a lowered interest in physically demanding work among the youth, poses a great challenge for the future of the European railway sector.
Railway worksites have not yet taken advantage of the inherent benefits of robotic technologies, which could lead to increased quality (repeatability and accuracy) and productivity, and improved worker safety by reducing the occurrence of fatal accidents due to human errors. STREAM aims to enhance worksite safety by introducing automatic safety functions to protect workers and thus allow safe and efficient human-machine collaboration. Giving the on-track machines a level of autonomy and intelligence through robotic principles can avoid many incidents and accidents at the worksite, e.g., by preventing collisions between machines, infrastructure or workers. By employing robotics, and by introducing aid devices for supporting workers during demanding activities, the main objective of STREAM is to achieve an increase in the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European railway sector, by creating an efficient, safe and intelligent infrastructure inspection and maintenance approach.
STREAM project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 101015418
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)