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General Info

Limits Compliance & Collision Avoidance System.

Piper Helix™ is an advanced, multi-sensor Limits Compliance and Collision Avoidance System (LCCAS) that integrates LiDAR, UWB and other technologies.

The Maintenance of Way (MoW) safety solution allows for fleets of rail-bound and hi-rail equipment to be accurately detected and tracked on the railroad in real- time, thereby reducing the potential for worker injury, equipment damage, and operational disruptions resulting from accidents or major rule violations. The system addresses several challenges that transit agencies and freight railroad’s face today, including: Limits Compliance, Collision Avoidance, Object and Worker Detection, and Collision Detection. In addition to providing this vast array of operational information to MOW vehicle operators, Piper also consolidates information for foremen and employees-in-charge who are assigned multiple vehicles from the work gang. Foreman tablets provide interfaces to monitor vehicle locations and onboard telemetry in real-time.

LCCAS Components

Custom Multi-sensor LCCAS Device

Helix is a non-vital safety overlay system that reduces the potential for employee and customer injury, equipment damage, and operational disruptions due to accidents or major rule violations. On track equipment have sensors on the front and back of vehicles.

LCCAS Components

Fleet Manager App

The fleet manager app (FMA) shows all the equipment operating within the work zone and displays all the same information that the selected equipment is showing its operator, as well as live telemetry and alerts. Foremen can also create work gangs, couplings and work zone parameters.

LCCAS Components

Operator Display

An intuitive Operator Dashboard displays feedback from the sensors locally to generate operator alerts. Operators can be notified of overspeeding, distance to and from established work zones for limits compliance, proximity to nearby vehicles and obstacles, and approaching grade crossings.

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Custom Multi-sensor LCCAS Device

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Fleet Manager App
Operator Display
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Maintenance of Way Safety Solutions

Limits Compliance 

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Limits compliance functionality relies on Piper’s GPS RTK technology to position MOW vehicles in the territory with centimeter-level accuracy.

This accuracy is critical for determining the track the vehicle is operating on and calculating the distance to the ends of the work zone. To accomplish this, Piper deploys redundant, broad coverage GPS-RTK base stations along the right of way.

Piper recently deployed a comprehensive database of the entire Northeast Corridor track geometry and required only 32 base stations.In addition to determining precise track and location, this network provides fine resolution for the proximity of vehicles to various points of interest, including: interlockings, platforms, grade crossings and signals.

Piper GPS RTK base stations provide incredible centimeter level accuracy. Only 32 devices total were required to cover the entire NEC making it a cost effective and fast installation.

Map of Piper GPS Base Stations installed through the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
Map of Piper GPS Base Stations installed through the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

Watch overview of Limits Compliance

Collision Avoidance

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Work zones often include multiple MoW vehicles operating in close proximity to each other with bi-directional movements.

It’s imperative to monitor the front and rear of each of these vehicles to prevent collisions and damage. For this function Piper deploys its field-tested UWB solution. The Helix CPU uses its knowledge of which track the vehicle is localized to and communicates with other Helix-equipped vehicles on the same track using UWB in a localized fashion. The ranging data collected from the UWB sensors allows the Helix CPU to accurately track the distance between the two vehicles and warn both operators if they begin to encroach on their safety envelopes. Operators are able to view this proximity information through the in-cab display alerts that follow the rules for safe separation of vehicles in both work and travel modes.

Piper’s UWB technology became the world’s first SIL 4 safety certified UWB positioning system.

UWB Sensor Unit and HD Camera
UWB Wayside Anchor
Master Control Unit (MCU)

UWB Sensor Unit and HD Camera

UWB Wayside Anchor

Master Control Unit (MCU)

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Watch overview of Collision Avoidance

Object and Worker Detection

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Operators are also alerted to the presence of workers that inadvertently cross the track fouling area as well as objects that may be left in the path of the vehicles.

Piper’s TrackSight™ LiDAR system is calibrated to focus its field of view towards the direction of the track for the purpose of detecting any obstacles which could result in a collision with the operating vehicle. The sensor is configured to ignore any observed objects which don’t meet the minimum threshold for size as to avoid false positives caused by common debris. Additionally, TrackSight™ can determine its distance to observed objects and notify the equipment operator of when they should prepare to stop based on their current speed. The system also takes into account the database residing on the local CPU to dynamically focus its field of view when the vehicle is approaching a curve or the track is changing elevations.

According to the FRA, there were over 3,200 train-related injuries for on-duty railway workers in 2021.

Piper TrackSight™ LiDAR
Piper TrackSight™ LiDAR

Watch overview of Object and Worker Detection

Collision Detection and HD Cameras

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Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) detect collisions in real-time and HD Cameras store outward and inward recordings for forensic review following hazardous events.

The Helix IMU includes a digital signal processor called Motion Processor which fuses acceleration and gyroscope data. The Accelerometer measures physical acceleration while the gyroscope measures angular/rotational velocity. Piper’s IMU accelerometer measures acceleration in meters per second squared which Piper then converts each acceleration into a g-force measurement to give the LCCAS system an understanding of any collisions which have occurred on the local asset. While the TrackSight and UWB sensors will enable the Helix system to alert the vehicle operator, EIC, and Dispatcher when a collision is imminent, the IMU will enable Helix to immediately alert the EIC and dispatcher when a collision occurs.

Additionally, the IMU gives the Piper LCCAS system the added function of dead reckoning for enhanced availability.

HD camera
HD camera

Watch overview of Collision Detection and HD Cameras

Virtual Tunnels

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In order to reduce alert fatigue, Piper uses advanced algorithms that create Virtual Tunnels.

Using the database created from the Virtual Tunnels, Piper distinguishes between objects that are breaching the fouling area or creating a hazard, from necessary and existing wayside infrastructure such as signal heads or gantrys.

To eliminate false positives, the TrackSight sensor takes into account the database residing on the local CPU to then dynamically focus its field of view when the vehicle is approaching a curve or the track is changing elevations.

Piper has developed innovative algorithms to prevent false positive obstacle alerts when vehicles approach curves and hills.

Virtual tunnel simulation software
Virtual tunnel simulation software

Virtual tunnels prevent false positive alerts

Piper Helix Overview

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Piper Helix | Limits Compliance and Collision Avoidance System
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Testimonials

Proven in the field

Our most recent technological advancements have been in the area of Maintenance Of Way (MOW) safety. We are currently working on a programme for Amtrak which is looking to expand its service delivery for passengers and a big part of that is in developing safety systems for the MOW vehicles that are required to ensure that its passenger rail can stay at optimal service delivery and that the rail and territory is safe.

Robert Hanczor
 CEO Piper Networks

Ultra Wideband wireless technology brings the promise of fewer and shorter delays, and faster and cheaper installation of modern CBTC signaling, by eliminating much of the equipment traditionally fitted under trains and on tracks. This is a game-changer for our customers.

Pete Tomlin Former MTA Signaling Chief

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.

Andy Byford Former President of NYCT

Benefits

Benefits that make a difference

High Precision

Reliable System provides accurate navigation for rail vehicles.

Works in extreme conditions

& above or underground rail environments.

Advanced protection

For MOW equipment and track workers.

Suite of sensor technologies

includes UWB, LiDAR, IMU and optional GPS.

Consistent two-way communication

with local MoW system using LTE Modem.

SIL 4 Safety Certified Equipment

tested against AREMA C&S 11.5.1 and IEEE 1478

Challenges in Rail and Transit

Find out how Helix can keep your MOW fleet and track workers safe

Contact Us

Piper’s news

Other Solutions

Reliably Innovative Transit Solutions

Piper has an existing suite of real-time location systems (RTLS) solutions that utilize various technologies, including: UWB, BLE, GPS-RTK, LTE, RFID, HD Cameras and LiDAR.

ATP-Overlay

ATP-Overlay

Automatic Train Protection for localization, safe separation, rollback protection, end-of-train, and more.

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Train Navigation

Train Navigation

Determine the location of trains with unmatched positional certainty, even underground or on elevated tracks in the city.

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Grade Crossing Safety

Grade Crossing Safety

Monitor grade crossings remotely to detect occupancy and alert rail system operators to potential hazards.

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Our single platform is not only designed to communicate seamlessly with your existing systems, but they can also be interoperable with your legacy equipment. Use Piper’s proven solutions to improve efficiencies and safety, or contact us to develop something specific to your requirements.

Station Safety & PIDS

Station Safety & PIDS

Calculate train arrival/departure times to improve rider experience, and keep them safe on the platforms with special track intrusion cameras.

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