How HS2 plans to use virtual reality to increase reliability of assets and railway | New Civil Engineer
HS2 Ltd has announced that virtual reality and sensors for real time monitoring will be built into High Speed 2’s (HS2’s) infrastructure, including rails, bridges and overhead power lines to increase reliability.
HS2 Ltd has said that the most advanced design software is being used in the development of HS2. As the designs are built, the data informs not only the construction of the physical HS2 but creates a digital twin of the railway that will bring significant benefits to the operational railway. This 3D digital replica is as detailed as the real thing, allowing tests to be run or faults to be detected in the virtual space.
According to HS2 Ltd, the rail project is learning lessons from the aviation sector and Formula One on monitoring. Sensors are being built into the structure of the physical railway, creating “a sort of nervous system”. By monitoring the performance of the assets and component, and reporting the data back to the digital twin, failures can be predicted and prevented. The rail project client says that this will decrease the chances of delays and provide passengers with a more reliable service.
The data from the thousands of sensors will be sent directly to HS2’s Network Integrated Control Centre (NICC) in Washwood Heath, Birmingham. The engineers on the site at the NICC can then analyse the data with the use of artificial intelligence to monitor asset trends. Any significant downward trends will be highlighted by HS2’s predict-and-prevent maintenance programme. This will replace the traditional rolling programme of maintenance and renewals.
Before going to site to fix any faults, engineers will investigate the situation through virtual reality headsets at the NICC. This will give them a greater understanding of the situation before arrival on site – and in some instances they might be able to fix the problem remotely.
HS2 head of strategic planning and asset management David White said: “With HS2’s digital twin-based predict and prevent approach to maintenance we have the ability to prevent failures and replace assets when the system indicates a decline in performance – as opposed to relying on a rolling programme of asset replacement.
“Harnessing the power of the digital twin and its predictive capability could see an asset’s operational life extended by months or even years. This will enable us to reduce cost, cut waste and shrink the environmental footprint of HS2’s maintenance operation and maintain a consistently high level of customer service.”