In order to collect power, electric trains use a pantograph, which is the apparatus mounted on the top of an electric train that comes into contact with the overhead lines and creates power. Because of the fast speeds of trains and the constant contact with the pantograph and the overhead power lines, it is important that train pantographs are regularly inspected. Manual inspections are one way that some train operators choose to inspect the pantographs, but this is limited in more than one way. First, it usually requires that the train is at a station and not in operation at the time and second, visual inspections always leave some room for error.
In order to prevent any problems with the pantograph and to enhance the operation of the train system, the use of a laser distance sensor is ideal for pantograph inspections. Acuity’s ultra-compact laser rangefinders can be used to register the distance at very high speeds to the top of the train and the pantograph. This information helps proper focus and triggering of high speed cameras. The images from the high speed cameras will then detect any defects and automatically alert the train company so that the operators can quickly resolve the problem before it occurs.