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The eyes have it when it comes to train safety

The eyes have it when it comes to train safety

Published:04 December 2017

Associate Professor Anjum Naweed helps young TV viewers understand how research can contribute to train safety.

Every move they make and every time they brake, train drivers are under constant scrutiny in a realistic simulator controlled by CQUniversity researcher Associate Professor Anjum Naweed.

Adelaide-based Anjum recently had the chance to explain his project to young TV viewers across Australia who are fans of the Scope – Science is Everywhere program.

He explained how it takes a team effort to endure train safety, with the driver and network controller needing to communicate effectively.

"Over the years these roles have become increasingly separated," Anjum said.

"That’s why we’re using our simulator to find out more about their relationship so we can improve how they work as a team.

"Our train simulator feels just like the real thing. It has a big cab with real speed and braking controls and a projector that shows lifelike graphics.

"It also has a range of cameras to record the driver’s reactions. Small cameras above and below the driver see how they are responding to the track, while a camera in front captures their face.

"Several cameras also track the driver’s eye movements so we can tell exactly what they are looking at and how well they are focusing.

"Next to the simulator, there’s also a control room where researchers can manage and control the routes and conditions given to the driver.

"To test our driver and controller we analyse when and how they communicate during different situations.

"For the driver, one of the challenges is knowing when to apply the brakes as it can take them up to 2 km to come to a complete stop. That means it sometimes comes down to the controller to warn the driver of any danger, like if the train has accidentally passed a red signal.

"Once we finish these trials we intend to analyse the information recorded by the simulator so we can understand how the two communicate.

"That way we can develop new measures and standards for communication and better recognise the challenges faced in the different roles.

"With the help of the simulator we are developing new ways to make our trains safer into the future."