News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "End of Train Video System", for Approval

July 24, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Kramer, Mark T. (Cape Charles, VA); Toth, George E. (Columbia, MD); Egerton, Gary W. (Silver Springs, MD), filed on January 3, 2014, was made available online on July 10, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "(1) Field of the Invention

"The present invention relates to video surveillance systems and, more particularly, to a viewing system for providing real time images or video taken in the vicinity of the end of a train to a display in a forward locomotive or remote location, and for recording the images and video for later use.

"(2) Description of Prior Art

"Railroad locomotives are often equipped with cameras that record views from the locomotive for use in accident investigations, training, or other purposes.

"For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,965,312 to Chung et al. issued Jun. 21, 2011 shows a wireless video recorder and recording system for generating landmark-correlated images taken from a railroad locomotive.

"Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,088,635 to Cox et al. issued Jul. 11, 2000 shows a railroad vehicle accident video recorder mounted on a locomotive.

"U.S. Pat. No. 5,978,718 to Kull issued Nov. 2, 1999 shows a rail vision system that looks for upcoming wayside signal devices and automatically operates the brakes of the train.

"These devices fulfill their respective requirements and objectives, however the patents do not disclose any means to provide real time vision-based information at the rear end of a train to an operator in a locomotive.

"Locomotive operators are generally located far from the end of the train and cannot visually observe surroundings near the train end. Nevertheless, many situations require accurately knowing conditions at the train end, such as the movement of the train end or the presence of a tripped signal, or the location of the train end relative to switches, crossings, etc. Heretofore, a locomotive operator could only monitor observed circumstances at the train end by voice radio contact or hand signals from a second observer located at the end of the train.

"Operators could also estimate the position of the end of the train by subtracting the known train length from locomotive odometer readings or GPS coordinates of the locomotive (on those locomotives equipped with odometers or GPS devices). However, these devices can only estimate the train end position within several meters and substantial uncertainty of the end of train position still exists. Accuracy, certainty and ultimately safety can all be enhanced if only the operator could have available real time visual images or video of the end of train vicinity that eliminated uncertainty of the train end conditions or the train end location relative to switches, crossings, etc.

"End-of-train devices are well-known, such as those shown in U.S. patent application 20100213321, U.S. Pat. No. 5,376,925 and U.S. Pat. No. 7,096,096. These devices transmit non-visual, instrumentation information such as acceleration, motion or GPS coordinates to a head-of-train device in the locomotive, where the transmitted information is displayed to the locomotive operator. Non-visual, instrumentation information can be useful. However such information requires interpretation and is not as comprehensive as motion, positional and other information conveyed by visual images or video. What is needed is an end-of-train video system suited for providing real-time video surveillance from the end-of-train to a display located in the locomotive or at a remote station.

"Moreover, there is a need for recorded images or video from the end of train vicinity for accident and security investigations or other purposes. U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,965,312B2, 6,088,635 and 5,978,718 show locomotive video recording systems. The systems heretofore devised and utilized consist of familiar, expected and obvious configurations that are generally arranged for the purpose of recording events and circumstances in the vicinity of the locomotive, which is typically located at the front of a train. These devices fulfill their respective requirements and objectives, however the patents do not disclose any means to record vision-based information at the end of a train. What is needed is an end-of-train video system suited for providing recorded images and video surveillance from the end-of-train vicinity."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide real time images or video of the end of train vicinity to the distant locomotive train operator or another observer located off of the train.

"Another object of the invention is to record images or video of the end of train vicinity for later use on a recording device located at the end of the train, on the locomotive or off of the train.

"In accordance with the foregoing and other objects, the present invention is an end-of-train video system that uses paired sets of communication equipment, one located at the end of the train and another on the locomotive or other remote location off of the train. The equipment sets may communicate point to point using wires or fiber optics, or wirelessly using radios. If radio communication is used, a unique identifier code that uniquely identifies the radio transmitter is embedded in the messages sent between the sets of communication equipment, such that the radio receiver can discriminate between messages sent by other similarly equipped trains or observers and a message sent by the transmitter of the intended train or observer. The receiving equipment will then disregard messages sent from other trains or observers and only display or act on messages sent by the intended train or observer.

"At the end of the train, the communication equipment includes one or more imaging devices to gather visual images, including both still and video images, from the end of train vicinity and convert them to electrical signals. Data processing equipment will then compress the imaging data and convert the electrical signals to a form suitable for transmission to the locomotive or other remote location off of the train.

"At the locomotive or other remote location off of the train, the communication equipment will receive the transmissions, which will be decoded and decompressed to read the original message. The equipment will have additional electronics to convert the original message into a form suitable for displaying the images or video on a screen near the locomotive operator or other observer. In a preferred embodiment, the locomotive operator or other screen observer can also send command messages to the equipment at the end of the train, control the cameras and determine when images or video are sent.

"In addition to displaying the images or video from the end of train vicinity in real time in the locomotive or at other remote sites off the train, the system can record the images or video for later use. The image data can be recorded in equipment at the end of the train, or alternately the transmitted message data could be recorded in equipment on the locomotive or at a site off of the train.

"Those skilled in the art will observe that several of the required system features presently exist in a railroad telemetry end-of-train device (EOT) and head-of-train device (HOT). A preferred embodiment of the system would be to augment the conventional capabilities of an EOT with a means to capture and transmit images or video and an HOT with a means to receive the image or video transmissions and display those images or video on a screen near the locomotive operator or other observer, and/or to record same.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and certain modifications thereof when taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:

"FIG. 1 depicts an end of train video system with an end-of-train video device at the end of a train, a locomotive viewing station at the front of the train and a viewing station off of the train.

"FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the end-of-train video system.

"FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an end-of-train video system integrated into end-of-train telemetry equipment for trains with conventional air brakes.

"FIG. 3A is a block diagram of an end-of-train video system integrated into end-of-train telemetry equipment for trains with conventional air brakes, that transmits and receives video data on a separate radio system from that used for conventional EOT messages.

"FIG. 4 is a view of an end-of-train video system integrated into an EOT for use on trains with conventional air brakes.

"FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an end-of-train video system integrated into end-of-train telemetry equipment for trains with electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.

"FIG. 6 is a view of an end-of-train video system integrated into an EOT for use on trains with ECP brakes."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Kramer, Mark T.; Toth, George E.; Egerton, Gary W. End of Train Video System. Filed January 3, 2014 and posted July 10, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=6619&p=133&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140703.PD.&OS=PD/20140703&RS=PD/20140703

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Legal Issues.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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