ERAS – The solution that watches out for lone rail maintenance workers’ safety

Date: 2021-2023


  • AI
  • lone worker
  • maintenance
  • rail infrastructure
  • safety
  • wearable solution

Meet ERAS (lonE woRker sAfety Solution) – A new wearable accident detection system using on-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) and geolocated alerts to increase safety of lone workers maintaining rail transport infrastructure.

Partners: Hitachi Rail, Rail Open Lab, SNCF Réseau

Published : 04, 08, 2023

The solution that watches out for lone rail workers’ safety

Keeping rail transport operational requires a dedicated workforce performing daily maintenance across large networks.

Certain maintenance tasks require the attendance of specialised lone workers at isolated locations for extended periods of time. Whilst work-place safety incidents are uncommon, due to robust safety procedures, an entirely accident-free working environment is not yet achievable.

Lone workers can be exposed to potentially hazardous situations during daily maintenance operations

Aligned to Hitachi’s commitment to mitigate the impact of work incidents, as well as EU and national regulations, lone workers should have the immediate ability to communicate with emergency services and receive rapid and potentially life-saving assistance.

A wearable automatic distress beacon

Working within France’s Rail Open Lab innovation framework, Hitachi’s European R&D Centre collaborated with Hitachi Rail and SNCF Réseau to co-create a decentralized AI-powered solution to this challenge.

Worn on the worker’s wrist, the device is lightweight and intuitive to use. It combines multiple hardware and software accident detection capabilities. These include a lack-of-movement detection function and a Human Activity Recognition AI-model, currently the fastest automatic detection method available.

Enabled by these cutting-edge technologies, the device automatically detects lone worker accidents and sends geolocated alerts to the emergency services. The worker can also manually activate alerts.

Accident stages and wearable accident detection and alert device technologies

Tailored solutions to Hitachi clients’ needs

Understanding clients’ requirements is a crucial part of Hitachi European R&D Centre’s approach to innovation. We know end-user acceptance of new technology increases when they are actively consulted at all stages of the design and development process.

Accordingly, Hitachi conducted on-site ethnographic studies to understand the inherent safety risks within the rail maintenance workers’ environment. Additional research into the user’s operational requirements confirmed the device must be non-intrusive, confidential, low maintenance, and user-friendly.

As a result of this research, the solution allows the worker to deactivate the automatic detection when required to protect their privacy. In this mode, the geolocation functionality will only be triggered on occurrence of accident detection. The ability to manually trigger the distress alert is always available.

At Hitachi European R&D Centre, design expertise, innovative thinking, and technical capabilities have coalesced to increase lone worker safety with a proven fit-for-purpose device.

We continue to collaborate with other Hitachi companies and their clients to identify and develop solutions specifically targeted to meet and exceed their needs.

Author(s): Cristina Rodriguez-Vera (Autonomy Circularity Lab), Lan Lin (Autonomy Circularity Lab), Jun Fu (Autonomy Circularity Lab), Leo Ah Kun (Design Lab), Frédéric Bernaudin (Hitachi Rail)

Labs Involved

Autonomy & Circularity Lab

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Design Lab

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