Dynamic Deflection of a Railroad Sleeper from the Coupled Measurements of Acceleration and Strain

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Jul 6;18(7):2182. doi: 10.3390/s18072182.


Dynamic deflection of a railroad sleeper works as an indicator of ballast stiffness, reflecting the health conditions of a ballast track. However, difficulty exists in measuring dynamic deflection of a railroad sleeper by conventional deflection transducers such as a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) or a potentiometer. This is because a fixed reference point is unattainable due to ground vibrations during train passage. In this paper, a patented signal processing technique for evaluation of pseudo-deflection is presented to recover dynamic deflection of a railroad sleeper using a coupled measurement of acceleration and strain at the concrete sleeper. The presented technique combines high-frequency deflections calculated from double integration of acceleration and low-frequency deflections determined from strains. Validity of the combined deflections was shown by the deflections measured with a camera target on a concrete sleeper, captured by a high-resolution DSLR camera with superb video capturing features and processed by computer vision techniques, such as Canny edge detection and Blob analysis.

Keywords: ballast track; computer vision; deflection; railroad sleeper; structural health monitoring.