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BrandPost: AI at the Edge Keeps Trains on Track

BrandPost: AI at the Edge Keeps Trains on Track

Duos Technologies uses artificial intelligence, computer vision and edge computing to capture remote safety inspections without halting trains.


At Duos Technologies, we’re helping freight and transit railroads by deploying cutting-edge technologies that transform precision railroading, to improve safety, productivity and general day-to-day operations. Our Railcar Inspection Portal(rip®) automates and streamlines the railcar inspection process to increase system velocity and dramatically improve their operational performance.

The Railcar Inspection Portal is a modular, intelligent visualization system that provides real-time, high resolution, 360-degree imagery of railcars at speeds up to 70 miles per hour and higher. This system, driven by artificial intelligence (AI), uses machine-learning (ML) algorithms to perform image analysis and automate maintenance inspection as well as provide security monitoring of freight and transit railcars.

The system replaces physical inbound inspection practices with remote, automated inspections prior to the railcars entering a yard. It can flag broken wheels, brake issues, dragging chains, steel gouges, open doors and other concerns — some of which could lead to a derailment or other catastrophic events — while providing data for customs and regulatory-mandated inspections.

The average manual inspection of a single railcar, using, in most cases, a flashlight and piece of chalk, can take several minutes. In about sixty seconds, our portal can inspect 120 cars or more.  We strategically place our automated systems along main track rail lines 50 to 100 miles from their destination inspection point. This way, when a train arrives, crews can immediately begin repairs and further inspections based on the data we provide.

The IT Infrastructure

It takes a great deal of computational power, huge data storage systems, fast networking and automated remote management tools to run a system like our Railcar Inspection Portal. To meet these needs, we work closely with Dell Technologies to deploy our inspection portals along the 140,000 miles of track in operation across North America — from a Midwest cornfield to a scorching Mexican desert and a windblown Canadian prairie. These portals are powered by “data centers in a box” situated at the edge — with 45U cabinets stacked with Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, storage, networking and more.

The volume of data collected daily at each site can be enormous: 700 GB in images alone, with a total of as much as 1.3 TB of data per inspection portal, including the various sensor readings. Data captured as each train passes through a portal must be processed and analyzed within minutes, making it virtually impossible to stream all that information back to a centralized data center.

To provide prompt, actionable insights to our customers’ inspectors and operators, we count on our PowerEdge servers to, in real-time, process and analyze the images and other data from the cameras and sensors at the edge, 24×365, using our AI models.

Duos’ Railcar Inspection Portals acquire a wide array of data, processed with different types of servers. Our system uses PowerEdge XR2 rugged rack servers for image capture and PowerEdge R740 servers with GPU accelerators for AI inferencing. The Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 storage provides data retention with the Dell Networking S-Seriesswitch optimizing the traffic flows. This data includes 360-degree visualization of railcar defects; vibration, laser and LiDAR sensor readings; and more.

We also use PowerEdge systems to accelerate the backend work in our data center in Jacksonville, Florida, including AI model training. Duos builds dozens of proprietary AI models for our applications. Training these models can take anywhere from 16 hours to a full week for the most complex sets containing hundreds of thousands of images. These models are then released for inferencing at the edge, where they deliver 95 to 99 percent accuracy.

Powerful Remote Server Management

To remotely manage and administer our far-flung estate of servers, storage and other solutions, Duos relies on Dell EMC OpenManage Enterprise and Dell EMC Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC).

iDRAC provides system logs and event notifications that enable our operations teams to keep tabs on the health and performance of our IT infrastructure, wherever it is deployed. This includes tracking trends, responding to hardware failures and handling tasks such as firmware upgrades and BIOS updates.

With iDRAC, we can completely rebuild a server operating system from our home office in Jacksonville. Doing that remotely saves us money and speeds recovery time. Every time we use iDRAC to get a server back up and running, we save $3,000.

An Expanding Range of Solutions

Beyond our innovative freight railroad solutions, Duos builds multi-layered intelligent systems to address complex challenges in wide-ranging industries — from protection of critical oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure to movement control and situational awareness systems for correctional facilities, all with the support of Dell Technologies.

For example, our Automated Logistics Information System (alis®) documents trucks entering and leaving distribution centers and other delivery points. An intelligent kiosk running on a Dell Technologies micro workstation scans drivers’ licenses and waybills while collecting other information needed to validate deliveries. With this solution, average entry times have been cut in half, from six to three minutes. At scale, this time saved becomes demonstrable.

Because our applications are unique, it’s hard to find technology providers that can perform at the level we need. We’ve found that Dell Technologies offers the best combination of highly reliable products, solutions, services and support for our AI-based solutions.

To Learn More

For a closer look at connected-intelligence solutions from Duos Technologies, visit duostech.com. To learn more about the components of our IT infrastructure, see the Dell Technologies case study “Automated railcar inspections increase security and revenue with AI at the edge.”

See how Duos Technologies has deployed their AI infrastructure at the Edge to improve the safety and speed of railcar inspections.

Explore more edge Solutions from Dell Technologies and Intel.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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