Piper’s UWB Train Positioning Project for NYC MTA

Piper’s UWB Train Positioning Project for NYC MTA
Objective of UWB Pilot Project
Demonstrate Accurate Train Positioning in Tunnels and Elevated Tracks
Piper Networks, in partnership with Thales, was awarded a Pilot Program for an Ultra-Wideband Based Train Control System to be installed on the 7 (Flushing) Line. Piper has now successfully completed functional testing of its train positioning system as part of the Ultra- Wideband (UWB)-based Train Control Pilot System.

From the viewpoint of NYCT, the pilot project is related to the analysis of the Piper Networks UWB Rail Positioning System (RPS) as a vital component of the CBTC system (providing train positioning required for CBTC operation). In this context, the UWB RPS provides the absolute reference locations on the guideway to the OBCU which uses the data to initialize localization of the train and re-localize, as needed.

General Description
How it Works
The Piper Enhanced Transit Location System (ETLS) uses Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology to determines the location of subway trains throughout the NYCT system with unmatched positional certainty. The system is like a blanket of radio coverage over the subway lines - virtually surrounding the tracks with smart sensors that pinpoint train location down to a few inches.

• Piper’s UWB Tags are installed in front & rear bonnets of trains.

• Piper’s UWB Anchors are installed wayside on tunnel walls or on survey markers of elevated tracks. These anchors detect the tags in the trains using UWB radio signals. Each anchor detects multiple tags simultaneously and uses a Time-of-Flight algorithm to calculate the changing distance between the anchor and the tags in real-time.

• Piper Tag Controllers in the bonnet of the train capture this location data and relay the information to the Onboard Control Unit (OBCU) which in turn sends the data to the cloud.

• Our Remote Monitoring Dashboard is cloud-based and relies on a combination of network infrastructure for connectivity. In the current deployment on the Flushing 7 Line, our trains feed the dashboard through an LTE connection; revenue deployments can integrate into the MTA network for system monitoring via the RCC.

General Description
Piper believes that the use of UWB in train control systems is an important evolutionary leap forward for signaling. Because UWB equipment is installed on the wayside and in the interior control cabinets on the train (as opposed to the track bed and the undercarriage of the rolling stock), the positioning systems required to manage train headways can be deployed faster, at lower cost, and with minimal disruption.

Likewise, interoperability with CBTC suppliers and UWB manufacturers will ensure that the technology will be compatible with future implementations. Piper is currently designing an interoperability specification that will help establish an industry standard for this technology.

Increasing Subway Throughput
o Ultra-precise positioning improves headways, allowing trains to run closer together and more frequently. The result is increased capacity that improves on-time performance and overall customer service.

Increasing Performance
o UWB technology can help accelerate the installation times and performance of Communications-based Train Control (CBTC). Piper is focused on reducing the delays often associated with installing new equipment and improving reliability of revenue trains.

Reducing Cost
o Piper’s positioning equipment significantly reduces the cost associated with the current generation of track bed units. Cars can be retrofitted in less than 2 hours and be ready for revenue service. As with most upgrades of trains or signaling, most of the cost is borne by the agency. Installing Piper equipment reduces the need for General Orders because the wayside equipment can be provisioned under flagging.

o Interoperability with CBTC suppliers and UWB manufacturers will ensure that the technology will be compatible with future implementations. Piper is currently designing an interoperability specification that will help establish an industry standard for this technology.

Improving Maintenance
o Piper’s UWB technology uses wayside instead of trackbed equipment, making it easier to install and safer to maintain. We are also able to adapt our equipment to existing infrastructure.

Piper ultra wideband packaging
Ultra wideband sensor installation
Shadow Mode
Ultra Wideband Ranging Map
Final Demonstrations
Miles of track on Flushing (7) Line from Hunters Point to 61st St.

UWB anchors installed wayside in tunnels and elevated tracks.

Hours of data have been collected.

UWB tags installed in the trains.

Avg. inches of accuracy for detecting train position in real-time.

Project was successfully completed in 9 months.

Piper was able to conduct two live demonstrations for MTA and press within 9 months of starting project. The objective of the demo was to demonstrate the functionality of the UWB- RPS system as outlined in the ICD document and the objectives for the Pilot program. Key executives and stakeholders from the NYCT team boarded the train at the 61st street station with the train following the route to 40th street and back.

Pete Tomlin, Head of Signaling, MTA provided an intro followed by Piper CEO Robert Hanczor who then did a powerpoint presentation that covered:
• Overview of Piper and UWB Technology
• Project Installation
• Live Train Positioning Demo Runs
• Live Anchor Failure Simulation Runs
• Live Work Zone Awareness Demo Runs
• Future Capabilities

The first demonstration was a success and the Piper/Thales team was invited back to NYCT to provide the second demonstration for various attendees from the press who were invited by NYCT to observe the progress of the project.

The second demonstration by the Piper Team was conducted on January 23rd, 2020. This demonstration was also a success and the turnout from the Press was impressive.

Testimonial from MTA
“I’m hugely encouraged by that Piper Networks demo… I think we’re on a winner here. This means that the already aggressive time frame of Fast Forward CBTC roll out can be expedited even more quickly and we can go from being this capable but very traditional subway to state-of-the-art.”