Soar and roll: New robot flies like a drone and drives like a train

railway drone

Choo choo! Alternating between an uncrewed aerial vehicle and a robotic ground device, a new drone by Europe-based Nordic Unmanned promises to get maintenance and inspection tasks in the railway industry back on track.

Nordic Unmanned has specifically developed Staaker BG-300 Railway Drone in cooperation with a large European national railway infrastructure owner.

The drone is designed to lubricate rail switches and inspect critical parts of the railway infrastructure while driving on the track. And should it encounter oncoming traffic, the drone can avoid getting flattened by flying to the side of the track and letting the train pass.

Not just that, to give way to an oncoming train, the drone can also switch from one railway track to another – ensuring zero disturbance in regular traffic. The sensors onboard the drone automatically detect changes on the railway, while providing a live data feed to backend decision makers as well.

Staaker Railway Drone can travel from Amsterdam to Brussels in one charge

But the most enviable feature of this drone is perhaps its range. The Staaker Railway Drone uses energy from hydrogen fuel cells and can operate on rail tracks for around seven hours at an average speed of 20 km/h. What this means is, the machine can cover more than 200 km – a distance equivalent to the Amsterdam-Brussels route – in one mission.

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As Knut Roar Wiig, CEO of Nordic Unmanned, explains:

Our ambition is to make rail maintenance and inspection far more efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. So, it’s time for the rail industry to take full advantage of drone technology.

Rail was our first drone service area back in 2015 and we are now excited to launch this product, fit for purpose for the future rail industry need. Service deliveries within rail infrastructure will form a sizeable part of our 2025 growth strategy.

Commercial deliveries of Staaker Railway Drone in Europe are expected to begin in the first half of 2022.

Read more: UK looks at drones, 3D printing to fix its dimpled roads

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