Evolving AIVR – A Reflection of Development to Date
By the end of 2023, AIVR and its user base reached new heights with over 7,500 users and more than 95% of the UK Rail Network being captured, amounting to almost 2 Petabytes of data. There is no better time to look back on how far One Big Circle has come over the years, from the initial product to the now multi-award-winning end-to-end technology.
Back to the Beginning
AIVR was introduced to the Rail Industry in 2019 by Intelligent Video Specialists, One Big Circle, during a time when the rail industry experienced tremendous dislocation and uncertainty – COVID-19. For condition monitoring and maintenance, this manifested itself in restrictions that prevented access to lineside sites and cab rides to allow inspection.
This challenge honed an exciting opportunity for unprecedented progress, innovation and collaboration between One Big Circle and many other organisations including Network Rail and Transport for Wales to address these new and existing challenges and deliver AIVR technology for remote infrastructure monitoring.
AIVR (Automated Intelligent Video Review) technology was designed to strip away the previous physical barriers surrounding video data collection, access and storage, and make this vital video data available to the whole of the UK rail industry to monitor the lineside environment remotely and safely, to reduce Boots on Ballast, in turn reducing the number of accidents and close calls.
AIVR is a complete solution for the capture, transmission, storage, analysis and distribution of trainborne imagery, which can be deployed permanently or temporarily onto any operational or measurement fleet. One Big Circle are the first to acknowledge that cameras on trains aren’t a new idea, but the ability to automatically transmit High-Definition Video from onboard vehicles in rapid time via 4G/5G, and be made instantly accessible securely online from the cloud for visual review, is something that hadn’t been done before.
AIVR Go’s first test on track at the QRTC, 2019
AIVR’s Key Achievements
Since AIVR’s introduction into the Rail Industry, working with industry innovators who could see the potential of the system, it’s hit several significant key milestones. AIVR first saw a handful of engineers testing the system, to now over 7,500 at the end of 2023. AIVR is now utilised regularly by Network Rail, Transport for Wales, key TOCs and by almost 90 supply chain companies for Infrastructure and Asset Condition Monitoring, Planning, Track (including S&C), Signalling, OLE, Civils, Drainage, Electrical and Power, Telecoms, Operations, Performance, Reporting, Driver Familiarisation, Plant, Seasonal Management and more.
The innovative system initially captured around 10 miles of data during its first test deployment at QRTC before moving to live trials on in-service fleet with TfW and the NMT with Network Rail. The system has now captured, stored and processed over 1,000,000 miles of footage, and is proud to offer up-to-date regular footage for users to view and analyse on the web-based AIVR Platform.
Through the hard work, planning and dedication of teams across One Big Circle, Network Rail, Operators and Designers, AIVR technology is now permanently installed on over 30 vehicles across the UK, including numerous fleet vehicles such as the New Measurement Train and the Class 153 Visual Inspection Units, as well as the in-service Class 158s, 159s, 707s, 507s and more, and has nearly 100 temporary installations that are easily deployable and can be moved across the network, continuously capturing crucial video data for those who need to see it.
AIVR Installations on the Class 707 and Class 507
When the AIVR Platform was originally launched, users were able to view the video data for site-survey alongside key locational information and access a suite of digital tools which allowed them to search by location, measure, and annotate. Working closely with industry experts and through regular feedback from users, the AIVR Platform has continuously developed to meet requests and support roles across the board, creating a truly fit-for-purpose product – led by the users; the planners, engineers and maintainers and so on.
The AIVR Platform now hosts new tools which allow users to view route history to assist with seasonal planning, complete signal sighting activities by skipping through the videos by distance and create specialised reports, and analyse Safe Cess of the track. Users can now search by a variety of locational data such as ELR Mile and Chain/Meterage/Yards, What3Words, Stations and assets. With these tools in place, and new features being added whenever appropriate, users from multiple disciplines now access the intuitive Platform remotely and safely from home or office.
For each hour that an AIVR user monitors data on the AIVR Platform, it is estimated that they save an eight-hour site visit or cab ride with all the accompanying time and risk of travel, and safety risks of being trackside when it could be avoided.
AIVR’s Growing Product Suite
With the first challenge of data accessibility being met, One Big Circle’s agility and ability to iterate AIVR’s technology has enabled more challenges to be met as they’ve been raised by industry experts. AIVR may have entered the Rail Industry as a forward-facing video capture system, but since then has introduced new products to capture a complete picture of the rail environment; forward and rear-facing cab views, thermal and infra-red imagery, corona imagery, and line scanning cameras, all of which were developed to meet the needs of the rail experts that the One Big Circle team work with on a daily basis.
AIVR Product Suite
AIVR’s Machine Learning capability has grown from initially detecting graffiti, to now detecting and assessing the condition of over 40 assets along the track using AI to provide inside to the end user and highlight areas of concern for review, from forward-facing, thermal, overhead and line-scanning views including: Ballast Bags, Limited Clearance Signs, Scrap Rail, Signals, Signal ID Plates, Speedboards, Troughing, Wet Beds/Voiding, Low Ballast, Thermal Hotspots, Whistle Boards, Structure ID Plates, Balance Weights, Birds Nests, Droppers, Cables, Fishplates, Debris, Welds and much more.
Collaboration and Integrations
Collaboration between One Big Circle and other key teams and innovators within Network Rail and throughout the rail industry has been the foundation of the staggering success of the AIVR system throughout the past year, delivering multiple benefits to a wide range of stakeholders by increasing safety and efficiency, reducing costs and enabling remote condition monitoring.
The AIVR Platform has an open approach to data and also integrates with external data sources and works with other industry specialists, to create third-party integrations and intelligence to provide a full house of data for engineers to view, such as Track Geometry, Weather Information, Access points, OLE Structures, Signals, LOC locations and more.
One Big Circle is also proud to have been one of the winners in the 2023 ‘First of a Kind’ (FOAK) competition for ‘Reliable and Maintainable Assets Rail Demonstrations for an exciting depot-based train monitoring capability, working collaboratively alongside operations Transport for London (TfL), Colas Rail and East Midlands Railway (EMR) to develop an existing prototype solution into a fully operational depot-based inspection system by the completion of the 12-month project delivery.
In 2023, One Big Circle were honoured to bring home another National Rail Award, for the third year in a row, for Safety Achievement of the Year for their collaboration with Porterbrook, Angel, Machines with Vision and other key players.
The One Big Circle team also proudly received an award for Product of the Year in the Spotlight Rail Awards for the AIVR technology, and as well as ‘Innovation of the Year’ for overhead line condition monitoring.
All the team at OBC are extremely proud of the achievements made throughout this year alongside our fantastic collaborative partners, and we look forward to what 2024 has to offer as we continue to grow AIVR’s capabilities.
National Rail Awards – 2021, 2022 and 2023