Progressive Railroading: High-Precision Positioning Products and Services for Positive Train Control

Recently, Hemisphere GNSS was asked to contribute a piece to Progressive Railroading on High-Precision Positioning Products/Services for Positive Train Control. The below was written by Colin Pollock, Sales Manager at Hemisphere.

With 25 years of innovative technology and intellectual property, Hemisphere GNSS has been designing and manufacturing high-precision positioning products and services for use in OEM/ODM (Original Equipment/Design Manufacturing), machine control and guidance, L-band correction services, marine, monitoring, unmanned systems, and other industrial markets. Our experience in these harsh working environments has helped us understand the demands that heavy equipment places on sensitive electronics like GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receivers. As such, we proudly build some of the highest quality and most reliable GNSS products on the market today.

Precise positioning is critical to ensure PTC (Positive Train Control) systems can positively identify on which track a locomotive is situated. Early generation PTC solutions have used “consumer” grade GPS (Global Positioning System), requiring the engineer operating the locomotive to manually identify the track lane on which the locomotive is situated. Precision GNSS technology offered by Hemisphere provides railway companies scalable position accuracies from sub-meter to sub-centimeter with high degrees of repeatability — eliminating the “human factor” and, thereby, eliminating another layer of potential error to the overall PTC system.

Hemisphere also offers GNSS-based compass solutions that can identify the attitude or heading of a locomotive. These compass solutions are immune to magnetic interference, and provide directional information even while stationary. This directional information can be relayed through the PTC network and provide a clearer image of what is happening across the rail network, to understand if there are potential trains pointed towards each other on the same track. Similarly, the same heading information can be relayed to the locomotive event recorder to provide yet another piece of data that will help reconstruct accident scenes digitally.

By understanding locomotive travel in remote locations, all Hemisphere products are designed to leverage as many positioning signals as possible. This ensures our products can provide constant position and heading information, even in poor environments like under tree canopies or in urban canyons. In addition to GPS (USA), our products track signals from GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), and BeiDou (China) navigation satellites.

Hemisphere partners with our OEM/ODM by leveraging our core hardware and software design services and finished products to create customized, unique solutions for our customers.