A new project combining smart rail edge computing and mesh wireless networking to improve connectivity on UK trains has been completed.
Mesh networking is a self-organising form of wireless networking designed to minimise installation issues; edge computing refers to a distributed form of computer data storage which does not need to connect to a centralised cloud. The initiative, a joint endeavour between smart technology operator Veea Systems and rolling stock train provider Angel Trains, was aimed at improving the process of connecting new technologies to existing trains and enabling the development of local applications to improve onboard features such as passenger entertainment facilities and in-carriage CCTV. The project was developed with grant funding from the UK Department for Transport’s ‘First of a kind: demonstrating tomorrow’s trains today’ programme, delivered by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK.
Innovate UK’s Innovation Lead for Rail Kelvin Davies said: “This project saw a productive collaboration between technology specialists and the railway industry. The technology demonstration that has been delivered has the potential to transform the landscape for all train operating companies [which] wish to provide their customers with an outstanding digital experience without the need for costly and time-consuming major overhauls of their carriages. We are delighted to have seen the successful conclusion of this project and look forward to the potential future commercial deployments to deliver benefits to rail operating companies and the travelling public.”
Veea and Angel demonstrated a number of potential uses of their smart rail edge computing software, including:
- Enabling staff on trains to access to live CCTV feeds through their mobile devices;
- Collating and reporting data on key systems performance and necessary maintenance using sensors distributed throughout the train; and
- Allowing passengers to play the popular video game Minecraft on the same server using a Veea mesh network.
Alan Jones, CEO of Veea Systems, said: “The rail industry can reap huge benefits from the adoption of digital services onboard for passenger services, operational services and efficient IoT services. The successful end of project demonstration showed how transformative this technology can be with applications available to deliver greater efficiencies, safety, security, information and entertainment, with the hardware platform deployed in a matter of hours without the need for a major overhaul of carriages.”