A research project tested the possibilities of partially automated towpath damage detection and interpretation as well as classification. The project was a cooperation between viadonau, Wien Energie GmbH and Smart Inspection GmbH. Up to now, the towpaths were inspected by an employee of viadonau and the condition of the path, the clearance profile, etc. recorded manually. In addition to the high expenditure of personnel and time, as the collected data also had to be digitized and evaluated, the lack of data comparability was a big issue. The intention of the new recording method to avoid subjective monitoring assessments, reduce the number of staff needed and ensure comprehensive and comparable data. In addition,infrastructure along the towpaths (stairs, boards, hectometer markers, etc.) will be recorded. The partially automated recording plays just as important a role as the automated categorization and evaluation of the collected data.

A test route of 40 km along the reservoir of the Danube power plant Greifenstein was selected because the most diverse conditions in terms of asphalt condition, clearance profile, etc. were found in this area.



News and project status

In 2020 the pilot towpath monitoring used a car equipped with the following technologies: LIDAR laser scan, high-resolution floor camera 42 MP, 360 ° camera (6 calibrated single cameras on the roof of the vehicle), GNSS antennas, wheel sensor for the speed measurement on the car. At the same time, appropriate evaluation and classification algorithms were set up.

During the test period, 18,042 individual photos were generated via the 360 ​​° camera system and 3,007 panoramic photos were calculated. The ground camera recorded an additional 6,617 photos. A visualization platform (viewerDonau) was developed to process the data, in which all recorded photos can be shown georeferenced. Thus, the photos and anomalies can be shown on a map. This data can be automatically transferred to a table or a written report. The pilot project showed that a higher degree of accuracy can be achieved with the new measuring system than with manual condition detection, especially with regard to the detection of the clearance profile.

From spring of 2021 on, the monitoring of the towpaths will be fully automated and the extension of the cooperation with Wien Energie GmbH is currently in progress. After the end of the cooperation, data can be recorded by external companies; the evaluation and processing of the data remains internally at viadonau. Furthermore, the algorithms and the artificial intelligence for the evaluation are currently being further refined and the visualization platform is being improved.

In the ongoing year 2022, the implementation of the system is planned. The procurement procedure has been completed and the company AIT will take over the inventory as well as the software licences in the period 2022-2026. The project was presented at the D-A-CH conference "Maintenance Management" of the transport ministries in May 2022. The project presentation generated very positive feedback.

The activity makes a substantial contribution to the implementation of measure 07. Increase the quality of berthing places and towpaths along the riverbanks of the Action Programme for the Danube 2022.