An inspection of the railroad “viaduc ferroviaire de Roquemaure” located between Orange (Vaucluse) and Roquemaure (Gard), that hosts the high speed Paris-Marseille connection was carried out recently. Normally, these inspections take place at night and all train traffic has to be suspended for the duration of the operations.
This time however, the inspection was carried out in daytime, with a train passing about every 5 minutes. The secret of this special inspection is the usage of a quadcopter, deployed by diades.
This SNCF inspector drone could in principle perform the following tasks:
– take photos and video of railroads and other SNCF infrastructures to detect points of failure and other weaknesses requiring maintainance
– sites and infrastructure surveillance to prevent thefts, such as for example of copper wires, which are quite common
The actual use of drones in such tasks, in particular the surveillance related ones, will not come before a few years (3-4) as it still requires research and development. SNCF is planning to invest in this direction, as drone technology, when fully operational, should lead to an increased efficiency and lower costs.