A METHOD FOR THE POSITIONING AND ORIENTATION OF RAIL-BOUND VEHICLES IN GNSS-FREE ENVIRONMENTS
Keywords: Rail-bound Navigation, Railway, GNSS-free, Position and Orientation System, Track Alignment Positioning
Abstract. Mobile Mapping System (MMS) are increasingly applied for spatial data collection to support different fields because of their efficiencies and the levels of detail they can provide. The Position and Orientation System (POS), which is conventionally employed for locating and orienting MMS, allows direct georeferencing of spatial data in real-time. Since the performance of a POS depends on both the Inertial Navigation System (INS) and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), poor GNSS conditions, such as in long tunnels and underground, introduce the necessity for post-processing. In above-ground railways, mobile mapping technology is employed with high performance sensors for finite usage, which has considerable potential for enhancing railway safety and management in real-time. In contrast, underground railways present a challenge for a conventional POS thus alternative configurations are necessary to maintain data accuracy and alleviate the need for post-processing. This paper introduces a method of rail-bound navigation to replace the role of GNSS for railway applications. The proposed method integrates INS and track alignment data for environment-independent navigation and reduces the demand of post-processing. The principle of rail-bound navigation is presented and its performance is verified by an experiment using a consumer-grade Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and a small-scale railway model. The method produced a substantial improvement in position and orientation for a poorly initialised system in centimetre positional accuracy. The potential improvements indicated by, and limitations of rail-bound navigation are also considered for further development in existing railway systems.