Deutsche Bahn monitors trackside trees from space
Satellites can be a powerful means for the maintenance of rail infrastructure. To examine this, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is making shots of trackside trees from space. Thus the railway undertaking plans to create precise digital maps of vegetation and, therefore, to better regulate trees along the tracks.
Around 70 per cent of DB’s railway lines run via areas with trees. From time to time, some of them or their branches are fallen on tracks due to storms. This causes train delays and creates additional problems for the passengers. Deutsche Bahn, in its turn, is paying particular attention to this issue and is constantly monitoring trackside vegetation. Annually the company allocates up to 125 million euros for inspecting and cutting, where it is necessary, trees along the tracks. In order to enhance the tree-monitoring policy, DB decided to apply a new digital solution from LiveEO, a Berlin-based startup.
The LiveEO technology enables to make shots of the railway lines from space by using satellites, to record the tree population, the distance between the vegetation and the tracks, and the height of the trees throughout Germany. With the help of the obtained images evaluated using machine learning, the German railway operator is able to create digital vegetation maps along the tracks, to better identify trees that are particularly susceptible to storms and to treat them in good time. LiveEO improved its solution in cooperation with DB and successfully applied it for the first time.
For several years in a row, the German undertaking is supporting startups that have ideas for improving railways with its DB Mindbox programme. This means extensive coaching, seed capital of up to 25,000 euros and the live tests of the proposed solutions. LiveEO took part in DB Mindbox in 2018. As of today, more than 1,000 startups from around 30 countries have applied to participate in DB’s programme. Of them, more than 90 took part in the funding programme. At the same time, only around 50 startups are cooperating with Deutsche Bahn in developing specific products and innovations.