Robust automated servicing of passenger train fluids

Robust automated servicing of passenger train fluids

Brunel University

With support from Chiltern Railways


Since the dissemination event at the Science Museum in London in May 2017, Brunel University has been awarded funding from Innovate UK, as part of a consortium led by TBG Solutions, for the next phase of research. This project focuses on the development of prototype port interfaces and robot end-effectors plus a test rig.

RSSB is also funding doctoral research into the design of future trains for robotic and autonomous servicing, incorporating human-centred understanding from the previous RSSB and Innovate UK projects. The main aim of the studentship is to identify dull, dirty and dangerous tasks within rail servicing and prioritise these for robotic and autonomous servicing solutions.  This will include:

  • reviewing and critically evaluating state-of-the-art practice
  • targeting one or two applications for design solutions
  • building, testing and evaluation of one or two prototypes
  • investigating economic and technical viability
  • investigating human/RAS interactions
  • formulating design guidelines and standards to inform designers of future trains


This project led by Brunel University explored the feasibility of developing an automated system capable of performing fluid servicing tasks such as topping up water, windscreen was and sand and emptying effluent. A human centred approach was taken to optimise human-machine interaction and ensure staff can focus on safer and higher value tasks.

Two design concepts where explored: A Cartesian hose with a dispensing rack and an articulator concept with multiple reels of various fluids. The Cartesian approach was the preferred option due to its simple design and health and safety benefits.

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