Sep 5 – 9, 2023
ASU Memorial Union (2nd Floor)
US/Arizona timezone
GRCon23 will be running from Tuesday Sept 5 to Saturday Sept 9 this year.

Ad Hoc Sensor Nets used in a Rail Enviroment

Sep 5, 2023, 1:45 PM
Arizona (MU 221) (ASU Memorial Union 2nd Floor)

Arizona (MU 221)

ASU Memorial Union 2nd Floor

Talk High Performance SDR Applications Main Track


Mr Michael Alldritt (UTS Sydney)


My research project is based on using modulated ultra sound at high frequency in the audio
band as a way to communicate between devices located in either Shipping Containers or Hi Rail
(Road Rail) vehicles. The research stems from a UTS capstone project completed ten years ago
that investigated methods to allow shipping containers that are stacked to form Ad Hoc
networks(Parr 2010).
The problem is that shipping containers that are stacked do not allow RF signal to propagate in
the traditional way, the signal cannot pass through the metal work of the other containers and
communication with that container will be lost. If your container has precious cargo that is of
high value, requires a controlled environment such as temperature, humidity, oxygen levels,
protection from vibration, cant or a requirements to be kept correctly oriented (Horizontal)
along with information that can determine if the cargo is becoming volatile such as certain
chemicals or if there is an issue with containment, for example if there is a possibility that it
could become a biologic hazard (transporting vaccines or corona virus samples)
A shipping container radio allows containers on the inside of the stack to form Ad Hoc shipping
networks to the containers on the outside of the stack that can communicate use standard
mobile modems. This method allows the owners of the precious cargo to maintain contact and
give real time monitoring of environmental conditions in the container(Al-Obaisat & Braun
Having worked for Metro Trains Sydney, I saw a different application for this method of
communications for Hi Rail vehicles when moving in the rail corridor. These vehicles move on
metal wheels along the track during weekend possessions and during engineering hours at night
when there are no train services.
Unlike the Rollingstock which uses communication-based train control along with a signalling
system controlling their movements; the location of each train in known down to a few
centimetres. This is required so that trains sets can correctly line up with the Platform Screen
Doors allowing passengers to embark and disembark safely from the train
Maintenance vehicles are not monitored, the operations manager has no way to track their
location and is relying on the driver to report his position on the radio. Sensor data from the
tunnels, the viaduct and at station platforms would be logged as well as real time sharing and
could be beneficial allowing monitoring of CO emissions, air quality, temperature, humidity,
location and the number of vehicles that are travelling together. These vehicles would form Ad
Hoc networks through the track with each other and with the wayside at key location. These key
locations could be at cross overs, sidings or Hi Rail pads where vehicles enter and exit the rail
The advances in software (GNU radio/Linux OS) and embedded systems such as the new
Raspberry Pi’s which have high speed powerful processors allow these devices to be developed
at a reasonable cost, operate at low power along with a compact robust design that make them
suitable for this type of application. It is now possible to utilize these advances in application
that could not have been possible 10 years ago.

Talk Length 30 Minutes

Primary author

Mr Michael Alldritt (UTS Sydney)

Presentation materials