Wi-Tronix awarded FRA contract for grade- crossing safety research

July 27, 2020
Wi-Tronix will work with a railroad partner to evaluate the ability of forward-facing cameras in locomotives to detect and analyze grade crossing infrastructure.

A contract has been awarded to Wi-Tronix® by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program on Grade Crossing Safety.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Volpe Center, annually issues solicitations for participation in research projects to solve industry issues. In early 2020, USDOT’s annual SBIR solicitation, with the sponsorship and guidance of the FRA, for Artificial Intelligence (AI)-Aided Machine Vision for Grade Crossing Safety was issued.  On May 21, 2020, Wi-Tronix competed in USDOT’s SBIR pitch day and was awarded the contract in July.

Grade crossing incidents are the second leading cause of rail-related fatalities in the United States, with trespassing incidents the leading cause.  In testimony before Congress in February of this year, the FRA Chief Safety Officer Karl Alexy stated, “The safety of rail operations over highway-rail grade crossings and trespassing on railroad rights-of-way are two critical issues that FRA recognizes continue to impact and concern communities.”

Wi-Tronix will be working with a railroad partner in evaluating the ability of forward-facing cameras in locomotives to detect and analyze grade crossing infrastructure such as railroad grade crossing lights and gates. Critical success factors will be evaluated in the use of video analytics and visual intelligence tools. The ultimate objectives are automating inspections to improve safety. 

“We are thrilled with the SBIR award,” said Wi-Tronix CEO Larry Jordan.  “This potential safety improvement is a perfect application of our Violet Edge IoT platform and Ecosystem.”