Our customer –  Via our contacts in Hi-Def Aerial Surveying, the client for this project was the Federal Rail Authority (FRA) in the US.

The customers problem – The FRA wanted a reliable and effective method to inspect their huge network without closing down sections of track for assessment.

Our view of the problem

The client needed to combine high resolution location, video and odometry techniques to replicate a manual walk along a railway track with the same intuitive interrogation and interpretation of large volumes of data – but without the risks.

Our solution   We developed a mobile sensing system and software suite to provide video survey capabilities from two stereo paired spherical cameras mounted on a rail vehicle platform.

This integrated system was then driven along a network to capture continuous high resolution video, providing visual data that was pre-processed to enable the user to make an accurate remote survey.  Visual odometry techniques were used to locate the sensing system in 3D space and, oncve merged with GPS data, this facilitated the navigation of the survey data via a map interface.

Our team – Richard McCormack led this project, working with colleagues in Hi-Def Aerial Surveying and combining their hardware and data handling software expertise to create the ideal solution to a complex problem.

What happened next?

Combining spherical video with slowed down playback enabled a user to have a sense of gliding along the track, looking around in different directions and “seeing” the track and its surroundings clearly.  As well as reducing health and safety risks for maintenance crews and enabling retrospective surveys and analysis, the technology has also improved data quality and reduced survey costs.

“The system didn’t just need to record a huge amount of data, it needed to be able to make that data visible and available to the user in a completely intuitive way. The success of the project has as much to do with the interface and slick data management as with the sensors themselves.”  Matt Mellor


  • Geo-located video data
  • Video resolution of 1mm at 1m
  • Survey speed of 50 km/hr
  • Integration with GIS systems and geographic video navigation