Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

SafeTrain Report Summary

Project ID: 674006

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SafeTrain (Piloting and industrial validation of autonomous and sustainable animal deterring system for the rail transport)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The history of the train-animal collisions is as old as a railway. Although a passing train is large in size and makes noise, animals do not consider it a danger and do not escape from the hazardous area. This is due to the fact that trains are much faster than any of the natural predators and thus do not induce the self-preservation reaction in animals. As a consequence, the animals living in the vicinity of rail lines quickly get used to the sounds emitted by trains, ignore them and cross the rails even just before the train. They eventually recognize the danger in an approaching train upon crossing the barrier of the socalled escape distance when it is too late to run away.

NEEL Sp. z o.o., a Polish SME with 22 years of experience on the market, has developed an absolute novelty on a world scale: UOZ animal deterring system that successfully prevents the animal-train collisions. The device exploits an animal natural sensitivity to sound and just before a train approach a series of sounds stimulates animal instinct and enforces the escape reaction. The concept and selection of sounds were developed by Professor Simona Kossak, expert of mammals’ behavioural ecology. The system comprises a group of the animal deterring devices located on both sides on the railway tracks. The devices not only significantly improve the safety of the rail transport by reducing the risk of animaltrain collisions but it also does not cause adverse environmental effects in the form of fragmentation of natural habitats and allows significant savings comparing to the cost of building wildlife passages. UOZ is a profound proof that the technique can serve not only humans by increasing their travel safety but also protect animals and sustain their natural living environment.

In response to a real market need and demand for the system confirmed by to date sales in Poland and Russia and further expressions of interests from the potential customers from Europe, NEEL is ready to size this unquestionable market opportunity with the next generation of the animal deterring system, called UOZ-2. UOZ-2 will be operationally simplified and sophisticated technologically so that it would be autonomous from the rail signalling system and harvesting the energy from renewable resources and thus installable anywhere regardless the grid power availability. In other words, the project aims at achieving the complete autonomy of UOZ-2 both in terms of train detecting function and power supply. Furthermore, the wired communication between the devices will be replaced with wireless solutions.

The goal of the SafeTrain project is to pilot and test in real environment the autonomous UOZ-2 animal deterring system that will be integrated with the automatic train detection system. The new train location system will be based on an intelligent mechanism of listening for an approaching train, originally developed for the application in level crossing warning system. Our approach is to incorporate it into the animal deterring system in order to make it independent from the currently used rail signalling system. This will not only reduce the complexity of the whole system but it will also reduce the installation and maintenance costs down to 60% of the todays costs. The secondary but not less important goal is the development of green powering system for UOZ-2 utilising renewable energy sources to make the system energetically self-sustained. This will be of particular importance in areas where the rail lines have not been electrified. The successful achievement of the abovementioned goals will enable the company to boost their growth and create 25 new full time positions by 2022.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Since the beginning of the SafeTrain project a significant progress was made in the development of wireless communication platform which was integrated to the UOZ-2 animal deterring device and successfully tested in laboratory conditions. It was confirmed that wireless data transfer between UOZ- 2 devices is feasible and they can be triggered remotely to play sounds protecting animals from entering the railway tracks. The wireless platform is built on a new generation of single-board computer and comprises state-of-the-art communication modules and software. Further tests and commissioning on railway lines in Poland are planned.

In parallel to prototyping of the wireless communication platform, the work package focused on designing the power supply system exploiting green energy was realised by a subcontractor – Ateknea Solutions. A comprehensive analysis led to the conclusion that a hybrid system comprising photovoltaic solar panels and a wind turbine is the most suitable for locations in central and northern Europe. A detailed list of equipment required to build the power supply system was produced, including photovoltaic panels, wind turbine, battery, current inverter, charging regulator, etc. Additionally, draft drawings of the column holding the panels and wind turbine were prepared. The designed column is easy to install and maintain and it is also vandal- and burglar-proof. The next stage would be to purchase the required equipment and build a prototype.

Energy optimisation of the UOZ-2 device has been also performed to decrease the power consumption of the whole system. Modern single-board computer was installed and more energy-efficient loudspeaker emitting animal deterring sounds was integrated with the UOZ-2. As a consequence, the total energy consumption of UOZ-2 was decreased by more than 50% comparing to the UOZ-1. Further optimisation of energy usage is also possible and will be attempted. Preparation of the Management and Communication Plan was scheduled for the end of November 2015 and it was prepared on time. This work was subcontracted to Ateknea Solutions that gave a vital support and guidance to the consortium for managing the project internally. Key communication objectives were defined and a detailed description of actions towards achieving every defined objective was included in the Communication Plan. A definition of the Business Innovation Plan including the commercialisation strategy for the animal deterring system has been also prepared.

Preparation of the Management and Communication Plan was scheduled for the end of November 2015 and it was prepared on time. This work was subcontracted to Ateknea Solutions that gave a vital support and guidance to the consortium for managing the project internally. Key communication objectives were defined and a detailed description of actions towards achieving every defined objective was included in the Communication Plan. A definition of the Business Innovation Plan including the commercialisation strategy for the animal deterring system has been also prepared.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Direct users of our product are the railway infrastructure managers which experience safety hazards and significant business losses due to train-animal collisions in the areas where animal migration corridors cross the rail lines. The consequences of such collisions include safety of passengers and train drivers, environmental damages and business costs. Therefore, except the railway managers there are other groups of stakeholders that will benefit from the wide implementation of UOZ-2 animal deterring system. It includes rail operators that will be able to provide safer and more reliable transport, which will be also an advantage for passengers. Rail construction companies will take advantage of the reduced costs and time of installation of the track protecting systems. Local communities will obtain the ecofriendly and reliable solution contributing to the protection of the natural environment and biodiversity. Finally, a non-personalized beneficiary of this unique solution will be the ecology system and wild animals whose natural habitats will not be fragmented by artificial barriers. Wild animals will be freely migrating without the risk of reduction of biodiversity, especially in protected areas.

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