TrackSafe wins international award

A project involving McMaster Engineering  faculty and students, Bombardier Transportation, and Ontario Centres of Excellence has won an international award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology for its promise to aid in the safety of subway track workers and inspectors worldwide.

TrackSafe uses radio frequency identification to mark the locations of mobile track workers for train operators, even from around bends or down dark tunnels, while also alerting workers to the locations of trains.

McMaster’s  Radio Frequency Identification Applications Lab and Bombardier started working on the project in 2010.

Under the system, workers wearing lightweight, battery-free signal tags check into a central terminal as they reach track level. The system marks their specific locations even as they move along the track, signalling operators to their locations with enough notice for them to avoid collisions.

This year, the IET received 430 entries from 25 countries, with the TrackSafe initiative taking top spot in the category for Embedded and Critical Systems.

“TrackSafe has the potential to have a major social impact because on a global scale it would improve both trackside worker safety and urban transportation productivity,” the judges said. “The project has demonstrated a high degree of collaboration between industry, local operators and academia in order to gain the full benefits of RFID and other technologies.”

Bombardier demonstrated the new technology to potential customers and transit industry professionals at its test track in Kingston this past summer.