Sensor system for the detection of objects / obstacles in critical points of railway lines

Summary of the technology

The research group in Electronics Engineering Applied to Intelligent Spaces and Transport (GEINTRA) of the Department of Electronics of the University of Alcalá has developed a sensor device and its corresponding procedure to detect the presence of any type of objects (vehicles, people, animals, etc…) in points of interest of the railway route (level crossings, tunnels, etc.), sending to the train the visual information and corresponding warning signs.
The device consists of a set of cameras located in the environment of each point of interest, an infrared lighting system, an image processing module and a wireless communication system with the train.
The system contributes to the increase of safety in rail transport, providing the machinists with visual information about the state of the conflicting points and notifying the presence of obstacles. The system is capable of detecting the presence of objects in daylight and nighttime conditions.
The group seeks for licensing agreements, technical cooperation agreements or commercial agreements with technical assistance, with companies that work in the manufacture of safety equipment for rail transport systems.

Universidad de Alcalá-OTRI

Details of the Technology Offer

The invention relates to a sensor and communication system that allows the driver to have visual information about the conflicting point.

Its main function is to supervise critical points within the railway line (level crossings, people transit areas, entrance / exit of tunnels, etc.) where the presence of objects, people, animals, etc., can be a danger for themselves and for the trains in circulation.

For this purpose, video cameras with characteristics that allow day / night vision will be used, together with a system of illumination in infrared wavelengths, which allows obtaining visual information (both day and night) of the area to be monitored, an image processing system to detect the presence of obstacles (in changing circumstances of weather conditions, changes in lighting, presence of shadows, etc.), and activate the infrared lighting system when the environmental lighting requires it. The captured images will be sent via radio to the train, along with the information that, by means of an image display system on board the train, warns the driver, with an alarm, of the presence of objects in the area to be monitored.

The use of four cameras, two day-vision cameras (color cameras) and two night-vision cameras (monochromes), allows, together with the infrared illumination spotlights, to obtain precise visual information of the area to be monitored, and guarantee the detection of obstacles in diurnal and nocturnal conditions, even in extreme conditions of environmental lighting and with the presence of shadows caused by the weather conditions and possible elements present in the environment of the area to be monitored (poles, trees, etc.). Besides, due to European safety regulations in the railway structure, it cannot be illuminated in the visible spectrum, since it may tend to be confused with the road signaling system.


- The system includes an intelligent video processing module, whose mission is the automatic detection of possible elements that can cause an accident (with danger for the personnel on the ground, like a run over, and also with danger for the train, like a derailment).

- In addition, the image processing system allows image transmission from the risk area to the train approaching the area and the detection of anomalous objects in that area and the transmission of the corresponding alarm to the train.


The proposed invention has the following advantages:

- Images in real time, and continuously, of what is happening at a specific point.

- Quick assessment of whether there is a risk situation.

- Increased safety in circulation.

- Elimination of possible human errors and facilitates the function of the machinist.

High commercial potential at national and international level with moderate cost.


Patent granted on February 2013, with publication number ES2377802

Current development status

Finished technologies

Desired business relationship

Technology selling

Patent licensing

Technology development

The group seeks to reach license agreements, technical cooperation agreements or commercial agreements with technical assistance, with companies working in the manufacture of safety equipment for rail transport systems.

Intellectual property status

  • Granted Patent
  • Patent application number :Patent granted on February 2013, with publication number ES2377802

Related Keywords

  • Electronics, IT and Telecomms
  • Information Processing, Information System, Workflow Management
  • IT and Telematics Applications
  • Electronic circuits, components and equipment
  • Electronic engineering
  • Optical Networks and Systems
  • Industrial manufacturing, Material and Transport Technologies
  • Transport Infrastructure
  • Railway Transport
  • Safety & systems
  • Protecting Man and Environment
  • Safety
  • Social and Economics concerns
  • Communications
  • Electronics Related Market
  • Electronics Related Equipment
  • Analytical and Scientific Instrumentation
  • transport
  • train
  • sensors
  • railway
  • obstacle
  • accident prevention
  • railway line
  • object detection
  • critical point
  • railway layout
  • visial information
  • transport safety

About Universidad de Alcalá-OTRI

The Technology Transfer Office at Alcalá University serves as a liaison between the University and its socioeconomic environment in terms of research and innovation. It encorages collaboration between research groups from universities and companies/institutions, with the objective to promote and commercialize research results and scientific capabilities.

Some of the services offered by this office are specified in the following list:

- Promotion of R & D and improvement of the relationships with companies.
- Promote the participation in R & D projects applicants to public calls (regional, national and European).
- Advising, processing and monitoring of patents and other forms of industrial protection.
- Support in the negotiation of contracts and agreements for R&D&i

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