LOCOMOTIVE CONTROL SYSTEM HAVING VARIABLE ENERGY MANAGEMENT

A control system for a train is disclosed. The system may include an input/output (I/O) module configured to receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train, a plurality of energy management modules configured to generate control signals associated with components of the train based on the operating parameters of the train, an interface gateway in communication with each of the plurality of energy management modules, and a control module in communication with the I/O module and the interface gateway. The control module may be configured to select one of the energy management modules based on the one or more inputs received by the I/O module, receive control signals via the interface gateway from the selected one of the energy management modules, and send command signals to components of the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the energy management modules.

Skip to: Description  ·  Claims  · Patent History  ·  Patent History

Description

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a control system, and more particularly, to a locomotive control system having variable energy management.

BACKGROUND

Machines, such as passenger vehicles, trains, tractor trailers, airplanes, marine vessels, construction equipment, etc., are used to perform a number of different tasks under varying operating conditions. To achieve optimum performance under a given set of operating conditions, operational control strategies for such machines may be adjusted as operating conditions change. For instance, each type of machine may be controlled differently based on changes in ambient temperature, humidity, load (e.g., based on cargo weight, uphill/downhill travel, headwinds, etc.), altitude, and/or other operating parameters. Other control variables may include regulatory restrictions, such as speed limits, sound level limits, emission constituent limits, etc. Because machine control strategies can be complex and involve numerous variables, automatic control systems have been implemented that receive predetermined and sensory inputs and generate tailored control signals based on the inputs.

For example, locomotive manufacturers have implemented energy management systems, which are used in conjunction with automatic control systems, to manage certain operating parameters of locomotives and/or associated rolling stock in a train. Energy management systems typically receive input signals from various sensors and other input devices and, in response to the input signals, generate command signals for various actuators throughout the train to achieve optimum performance. Because trains are typically very heavy and can include, in some instances, hundreds of rolling stock assets that span lengths of track over a mile long, energy management strategies for trains can be very complex. Further, basic control strategies may vary in response to significant fluctuations of some operating parameters during a mission, such as the weight of a train when its cars are empty versus when its cars are full of payload materials (e.g., coal, metal ores, etc.).

One system for managing data inputs and command signals for controlling a train is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,972,143 (the '143 patent) to DeSanzo et al., that issued on Mar. 3, 2015. In particular, the '143 patent describes a system for receiving information from client modules and delivering the information to train controllers that govern the operation of train systems and components. The information from the client modules is received through an interface gateway that translates the information into a usable format and distributes the information to an appropriate controller. The client modules may provide an energy management application that controls tractive effort and braking of the train in response to various data parameters to reduce fuel consumption.

While the system of the '143 patent may allow an energy management system to be received from a client module, it may not be optimum. In particular, the ability of the system of the '143 patent to conserve fuel may be limited by the scope of control or the particular control strategy associated with the energy management application of the client module. That is, the energy management application of the client device may not be optimum under all circumstances and for performing all types of tasks required of the train.

The disclosed control system is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems set forth above and/or other problems of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a control system for a train. The control system may include an input/output (I/O) module configured to receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train, a plurality of energy management modules, each being configured to generate control signals associated with components of the train based on the operating parameters of the train, an interface gateway in electronic communication with each of the plurality of energy management modules, and a control module in electronic, communication with the I/O module and the interface gateway. The control module may be configured to select one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the one or more inputs received by the I/O module, receive control signals via the interface gateway from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules, and send command signals via the I/O module to components of the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

In another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a method of controlling a train. The method may include receiving one or more inputs indicative of an operating parameter of the train, selecting, via an electronic control module, one of a plurality of energy management modules based on the one or more inputs, receiving control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules, and sending command signals, via the electronic control module, to components of the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

In yet another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a control system for a train. The control system may include, an input/output (I/O) module configured to receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train, a plurality of energy management modules, each being configured to generate control signals associated with components of the train based on the operating parameters of the train, an interface gateway in electronic communication with each of the plurality of energy management modules, and a control module in electronic communication with the I/O module and the interface gateway. The controller may be configured to select one of the plurality of energy management modules based on at least one of a location of the train, an operator-selected energy management module, and a health condition of the train. The controller may also be configured to receive control signals via the interface gateway from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules and send command signals via the I/O module to one or more of a throttle and a braking system associated with the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial illustration of an exemplary disclosed freight delivery route for a train;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an exemplary disclosed locomotive that may move the train along the freight delivery route of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a pictorial illustration of a map showing geo-fences that may be used in conjunction with the train of FIGS. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic illustration of an exemplary disclosed control system having variable energy management settings that may be used with the train of FIG. 1; and.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 pictorially illustrates an exemplary railroad delivery route (“delivery route”) 10 along a span of tracks 12 on which a train 14 may travel to transport payload materials, such as coal, metal ores, stone, other raw materials, and/or any other type of good or material. Train 14 may carry the payload in one or more linked rolling stock assets (“assets”) 16, such as locomotives 18, wagons 20, tankers, well cars, box cars, hopper cars, etc. In other embodiments, delivery route 10 may be a travel route between cities, and assets 16 may include rail vehicles for moving passengers and their cargo, such as coaches, baggage cars, and/or other types of rolling stock.

Delivery route 10 may include an origin 22, depicted in FIG. 1 as a mining facility. Origin 22 may alternatively be a quarry, a factory or plant, a train station for passengers, or another type of facility. Assets 16 may receive their contents at origin 22 at the beginning of a delivery mission. Wagons 20 may be filled with a payload material, such as coal, via a loading system 24 or other means for filling wagons 20 with payload material. For example, wagons 20 may be open wagons configured to be filled through an open top end by loading system 24. An exemplary loading process may include slowly passing each wagon 20 of train 14 under a portion of loading system 24 to allow loading system to fill each wagon 20. Other methods and/or systems for loading wagons 20 may be used.

Delivery route 10 may also include a destination 26 located some distance from origin 22. Destination 26 may be location where the payload or other contents of train 14 are unloaded. For example, destination 26 may be a port 28 where the contents of train 14 are unloaded and transferred to a marine vessel 30. In the example of FIG. 1, destination 26 may include a dumping system 32 configured to empty each wagons 20 of its payload. In some cases, dumping system 32 may include a rotary dumper (sometimes referred to as a tippler) configured to engage one or more wagons 20 at a time and tip them over to dump their contents into a collection hopper. In other cases, each wagon 20 may be positioned over the collection hopper and configured to release payload material through openings in their bottom ends into the collection hopper. Each wagon may be positioned over the collection hopper of dumping system 32. Other types of dumping systems 32 may be used.

Between origin 22 and destination 26, delivery route 10 may include a number of features associated with the terrain that can pose challenges to the efficient operation of train 14. For example, delivery route 10 may include one or more tunnels 34, uphill sections 36, downhill sections 38, as well as speed-restricted zones, curves, various slopes, etc. Each feature of delivery route 10 may require train 14 and/or its individual assets 16 to be controlled differently in order to achieve optimized efficiency (e.g., with respect to fuel consumption, wear and tear, etc.) and avoid separation events, derailments, and/or other undesirable circumstances. Train 14 may be controlled according to a driving strategy associated with a manual and/or automatic control system for operating locomotives 18 and/or other assets 16 of train 14.

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary locomotive 18 that may be associated with train 14 (referring to FIG. 1). Locomotive 18 may be a fuel-burning locomotive that includes an engine system 40 having one or more fuel-burning engines 42 (only one shown in FIG. 2). Engine 42 may be an internal combustion engine (e.g., a piston engine, a turbine engine, etc.) configured to burn a fuel (e.g., diesel, petrol, natural gas propane, kerosene, etc.) supplied by a fuel system 44 in order to generate a mechanical power output. The output of engine 42 may be used to drive a generator 46 (e.g., an AC generator, a DC generator, etc.) configured to supply electricity to a traction system 48 having one or more traction motors 50 for propelling locomotive 18 on a plurality of wheels 52 and axles (not shown). Engine 42 may alternatively be configured to directly drive wheels 52 with the mechanical output via drivetrain components, such as gears, clutches, torque converters, shafts, etc. In other embodiments, engine 42 may be a fuel-fired furnace (e.g., a coal furnace) configured to produce steam power for propelling locomotive 18.

A cooling system 54 may be configured to actively cool engine 42 and/or other components of locomotive 18. Cooling system 54 may include, for example, fluid conduits 56 that circulate a cooling fluid (e.g., water, a coolant, etc.) between a heat source (e.g., such as engine 42, generator 46, etc) and a heat sink, such as a heat exchanger 58. Heat exchanger 58 may include a number of fluid passages configured to allow heated fluid therein to transfer heat to a cooler fluid (e.g., air, water, etc) passing between or around the fluid passages. Cooling system 54 may also include one or more cooling fluid pumps, valves (e.g., control valves, manual valves, etc.), fans, sensors, and/or other components.

Locomotive 18 may also include one or more brake systems 60 (only one shown in FIG. 2) configured to reduce the track speed of locomotive 18. For example, brake systems 60 may include one or more braking devices 62 positioned near a rotary component (e.g., a brake disk, brake drum, etc.) associated with wheels 52. Braking devices 62 may include a caliper and pads, shoes and linkages, magnetic brakes (e.g., eddy current brakes), or another type of braking device. As shown in FIG. 2, braking devices 62 may be actuated by a compressed air system 64. In other embodiments, braking devices 62 may be powered hydraulically, mechanically, by a combination thereof, or by another method. Locomotive 18 may also or alternatively include other types of braking systems, such as parking brakes, auxiliary brakes, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, etc.

Compressed air system 64 may include one or more air compressors 66 (only one shown in FIG. 2) configured to pressurize air for use throughout locomotive 18. Pressurized air conduits 68 may be configured to transport pressurized air from compressor 66 to various devices within locomotive, such as braking devices 62, suspension equipment, etc. Compressor 66 may be driven by an electric motor 70 that may be powered by generator 46, a battery, or another source of electricity. In other embodiments, compressor 66 may he autonomously powered by a dedicated engine (e.g., a fuel-burning engine).

An electrical system 72 may supply and/or control electrical power to various electrical devices associated with locomotive 18. Electrical system 72 may supply electrical power via generator 46, a dedicated engine and generator, one or more batteries or battery banks, a connection to grid power, or another source of electricity. Electrical power may be distributed throughout electrical system 72 via one or more circuit breakers 74 (only one shown in FIG. 2). For example, electricity from generator 46 may be distributed to traction motors 50 via circuit breaker 74 for propelling locomotive 18. Electrical system 72 may also power a locomotive control system 76 and/or other electronic control devices. Electrical system 72 may include additional circuit breakers 74, fuses, receptacles, lights (e.g., headlights, running lights, interior lights, etc.), and or other components, as desired.

Control system 76 may include one or more components associated with manual and/or automatic control of locomotive 18 and/or train 14. For example, control system 76 may include a plurality of sensors 78 (only one shown in FIG. 2), a locating device 80, a communication device 82, a user interface 84, and a controller 86 in communication with each of the other components. Controller 86 may also be in communication with and configured to selectively operate one or more actuators associated with the components of systems 40, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64, 72, and 76. Additional and/or other components of control system 76 may be included, if desired. Components of control system 76 may be configured to communicate by wired (e.g., dedicated wire, local area network (LAN), controller are network (CAN), wide area network (WAN), etc.) and/or wireless connections (e.g., WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, satellite, RFID, etc.).

Sensors 78 may be positioned throughout locomotive 18 and or other assets 16 of train 14 (referring to FIG. 1). Sensors 78 may each be configured to generate a signal indicative of an operating parameter and/or an operational status of an associated system, subsystem, and/or component of locomotive 18. Sensors 78 may be configured to generate signals indicative of for example, temperature (e.g., a coolant temperature, an oil temperature, etc.), pressure (e.g., an oil pressure, a coolant pressure, an intake air pressure, etc.), position, current, voltage, presence (e.g., via optical sensors, cameras, etc.), air flow, fuel flow, exhaust constituents, air/fuel ratio, light intensity, I/O status, etc. One or more sensors 78 may be associated with each of systems 40, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64, 72, and 76, and/or other systems, subsystems, and/or components of locomotive 18. Signals generated by sensors 78 may also be indicative of an operational status of sensors 78 themselves and/or their associated systems, subsystems, and/or components. For example, the integrity, strength, and/or nature of the signals generated by sensors 78 may be indicative of whether the respective sensor and/or associated systems, subsystems, and/or components are functioning properly. Signals from sensors 78 may be communicated to controller 86 for further processing.

Locating device 80 may be an onboard locating device configured to determine and communicate an absolute and/or relative geographic location of locomotive 18. For example, locating device 80 may include a Global Positioning System (GPS) transponder configured to receive position signals from one or more GPS satellites, an Inertial Reference Unit (IRU), or any other locating device known in the art. Locating device 80 may communicate the positioning signals and/or other information to controller 86 for further processing.

Communication device 82 may include any device configured to facilitate communications between controller 86 and off-board entities, such as an off-board signaling system, wayside equipment, an off-board computer, other trains, etc. Communication device 82 may include hardware and/or software that enables communication device 82 to send and/or receive data messages through a wireless communication link. Communication device 82 may be configured to communicate via wireless communication platforms, such as by satellite, cellular, infrared, Bluetooth, WiFi, and/or other wireless communication platforms. Communication device 82 may also or alternatively be configured to communicate via a local area network (LAN) or another type of wired network that enables controller 86 to exchange information with off-board entities.

User interface 84 may be located inside an operator station of locomotive 18, and may include a data entry module 88 for manually receiving data from an operator and a display 90 for displaying information to the operator. Data entry module 68 may include a keyboard, mouse, touchscreen, directional pad, selector buttons, or any other suitable features for recording manually entered data. User interface 84 may also include one or more devices for controlling operations of locomotive 18 and/or train 14. For example, user interface 84 may include a throttle control (e.g., throttle notch control), a brake control (e.g., a brake handle), a reverser, and/or other controls. Control devices may embody levers, knobs, switches, buttons, slides, handles, touch screens, soft keys, and/or other types of controls. User interface 84 may also be configured to allow the operator to engage or communicate with other control systems of train 14 and/or individual assets 16. That is, information and requests. for input from one or more other control systems may be shown to the operator via display 90, and the operator may provide responses and/or other input via data entry module 88. Inputs entered via data entry module may be communicated to controller 86 for further processing.

Controller 86 may embody, for example, an electronic control module (ECM), or another processor that is capable of executing and/or or outputting control signals in response to received inputs. Controller 86 may include means for accessing, reading, and processing stored information and for displaying such information by way of user interface 84. For example, controller 86 may embody a single microprocessor or multiple microprocessors that include a means for monitoring input from user interface 84, sensors 78, and/or other sources. Controller 86 may include a memory, a secondary storage device, and a processor, such as a central processing unit or any other means for accomplishing a task consistent with the present disclosure. Commercially available microprocessors can be configured to perform the functions of controller 86. It should be appreciated that controller 86 could readily embody a general machine controller capable of controlling numerous other machine functions. Various other known circuits may be associated with controller 86, including signal-conditioning circuitry, communication circuitry, and other appropriate circuitry.

Controller 86 may be configured to continually receive signals from sensors 78 and automatically generate control signals based on the signals from sensors 78. For example, controller 86 may control operations of assets 16 according to a feedback control strategy. That is, controller 86 may monitor operating parameters of assets 16 (as indicated by signals from sensors 78) and generate control signals to actuate components of assets 16 in order to maintain the operating parameters at or within a range of set point and/or threshold values. Controller 86 may control actuators associated with operating parameters, such as, for example, engine speed, fuel pressure, coolant temperature, and/or others, based on a stored control strategy and signals from respective associated sensors 78 in order to maintain each operating parameter within a desired working range.

During a delivery mission, train 14 may travel through several different geographic regions and experience varying operating conditions in each region. For example, different regions may be associated with varying track conditions, steeper or flatter grades and slopes, speed restrictions, noise restrictions, and/or other such conditions. Some operating conditions in a given geographic region may also change over time as, for example, track rails wear and speed and/or noise restrictions are implemented or changed. Other factors relevant to controlling train 14 may include types of loading and dumping systems 24, 32 (referring to FIG. 1) at origin 22 and destination 26, the health of train 14, the number of assets 16 connected to train 14, whether assets 16 are filled with payload, and the health of train 14. Operators may therefore wish to implement different control strategies in each geographic region to achieve efficient operation in view of these various conditions. To help operators implement desired control strategies at different geographic locations, controller 86 may be configured to allow operators and/or other users to establish and define geo-fences along delivery route 10.

For example, as shown in FIG. 3, user interface 84 (referring to FIG. 2) may be configured to display a map 92 of at least a portion of delivery route 10. Map 92. may be configured to show sections of delivery route 10, including origin 22, destination 26, tunnels 34, uphill and downhill section 36, 38, as well as speed-restricted zones, curves, rail yards, towns and/or other features. Map 92 may also be indicative of other geographic information, such as topographic data, grades of track, elevation, and or other information. In some embodiments, map 92 May show nearby buildings, airports, roadways, waterways, and/or other features, if desired.

Controller 86 may be configured to show via map 92 graphical representations of one or more geo-fences 94, Geo-fences 94 may be established and modified through one or more features of user interface 84. For example, user interface 84 may be configured to allow users to define geo-fence boundaries by entering coordinate points into input fields (e.g., text fields, dropdown menus, etc.), drawing them on display 90 (e.g., display 90 may be a touchscreen interface), or by another suitable method. Operating parameters and related thresholds for control (e.g., speed limits, throttle limits, temperature limits, etc.) may also be selected and associated with a new or existing geo-fence 94 via user interface 84. In this way, operators may be able to define certain control rules to be automatically implemented by control system 76 based on the location of train 14.

Due to the numerous operating parameters and control variables associated with operating train 14 at and between origin 22 and destination 26, it may be impractical for operators to set geo-fence limits or manually adjust each control variable at each geographic location to achieve optimum performance. Thus, as shown in FIG. 4, controller 86 may include a control module 96 in electronic communication with a plurality of energy management modules 98, via a locomotive interface gateway (“interface gateway”) 100. Each energy management module may be configured to generate control signals associated with components of train 14 based on the operating parameters of train 14 using different respective control strategies. Each energy management module 98 may be used to control train 14 under different sets of operational circumstances that arise during a delivery mission.

Control module 96 may be a processor or software associated with controller 86 and configured to govern general aspects of train 14. Control module 96 may, for example, be installed within or in connection with controller 86 as general or proprietary hardware or software by the manufacturer of locomotive 18. Control module 96 may facilitate and coordinate the manual and/or automatic control of all or a portion of locomotive 18 and/or other associated assets 16 of train 14. Control module 96 may be or otherwise perform certain functions of a general or proprietary machine controller. Control module 96 may communicate with the various components of locomotive 18 and/or other assets 16 of train 14 via an input/output (I/O) module 102, I/O module 102 may facilitate electronic communication between control module 96 and other devices, such as sensors 78 and systems 40, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64, and 72. For example, I/O module 102 may receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of train 14 from sensors 78, distribute command signals to systems 40, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64, and 72 from controller 86, and/or receive feedback signals from sensors 78 and systems 40, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64, and 72.

Energy management modules 98 may be each be a processor or software configured to be accessed by control module 96 via interface gateway 100. Each energy management module 98 may be configured to generate control signals based on the operating parameters of train 14 in order to control the components of train 14 according to a particular control strategy. For example, each energy management module 98 may be configured to optimize the performance of train 14 under certain operating conditions or during the performance of certain tasks that require different control strategies than during normal or average operation. Thus, control module 96 may be configured to select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 based on one or more inputs received by I/O module 102 and receive control signals via interface gateway 100 from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 for use in controlling train 14. Control module 96 may then send command signals via I/O module 102 to components of train 14 based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 to achieve optimum performance under the current operating conditions or during the current task.

The plurality of energy management modules 98 may include any number of energy management modules (e.g., a first, a second, a third, an nth, etc.). Each energy management module 98 may be a proprietary or closed-source module provided by the manufacturer of train 14 and/or control module 96. Alternatively, one or more of the plurality of energy management modules 98 may be a third-party module provided by a different manufacturer as an open- or closed-source module configured to be used in conjunction with controller 86 and/or control module 96 of train 14. For instance, energy management modules 98 may be developed by third party manufacturers for incorporation into existing control systems as primary or supplemental control modules. Each energy management module 98 may be configured to receive inputs indicative of operating parameters and output control signals for controlling components of train 14 to achieve optimum or otherwise desired performance, or to automatically carry out certain tasks. Each energy management module 98 may therefore be accessed by control module 96 when the operating conditions and/or current task of train 14 are suitable for control by the respective energy management module 98,

For example, energy management modules 98 may include a travel module 104 configured to automatically control one more of a throttle and a braking system (e.g., brake system 60) associated with train 14 to optimize fuel consumption during travel. Travel module 104 may be configured to receive a plurality of inputs via interface gateway 100, such as the inputs received by control module 96 via I/O module 102, and control train 14 based on the inputs. For example, travel module 104 may receive inputs indicative of track grade, track slope, altitude, load (e.g., payload weight, weight of locomotives 18, weight of other assets, etc.), ambient temperature, and/or other parameters and features of delivery route 10. used on these and/or other inputs, travel module 104 may output control signals configured to achieve optimum fuel efficiency and/or reduce wear and tear of train 14.

Travel module 104 may also receive inputs indicative of geographic features along delivery route 10 and generate control signals that account for the effects of such features on the performance of train 14. For example, travel module 104 may receive inputs from locating device 80 and/or other geographic data systems that are indicative of features, such as tunnels, hills (e.g., uphill and downhill grades), curves, speed-restricted zones, areas of slick track, etc. Based on these inputs, travel module 104 may control throttle parameters, braking parameters, and or other parameters in order to achieve optimum performance. For instance, travel module 104 may control throttle settings based on the length of a tunnel, reduce power output over slick rack and/or prior to entering curves, and control throttle and braking to obey speed restrictions. In conjunction with other known asset parameters (e.g., type, weight, total number in train 14, etc.), travel module 104 may anticipate braking and throttle commands to ensure that train 14 can successfully navigate geographic features, such as hills and curves, without experiencing a separation event, losing momentum, or violating speed restrictions.

Energy management modules 98 may also include an automated payload transfer module 106 configured to precisely control movements of train 14 during one or more of a dumping process and a filling process. For example, as train 14 is being filled with payload material at origin 22, achieving effective automatic positioning of each wagon 20 with respect to loading system 24 using a fuel economy-oriented control method may not be feasible. Thus, payload transfer module 106 may be configured to iteratively speed up and slow down train 14 to ensure that each wagon 20 is filled properly and to a desired capacity while minimizing material spillage. Payload transfer module 106 may also or alternatively be configured to control the positioning of train 14 during a dumping process in order to minimize spillage and leftover material in wagons 20 after dumping. For example, payload transfer module 106 may automatically control the position of each wagon 20 with respect to the type of dumping system used at destination 26, such as a rotary dumper or open bottom hopper system, to reduce the time taken to empty a train of its payload, as well as leftover material in each wagon.

Energy management system may also include a utility module 108 configured to automatically relocate locomotive 18 from a first location in a rail yard to a second location in the rail yard. That is, instead of focusing on fad efficiency or precision position control, utility module 108 may be configured to quickly and reliably move locomotives under prescribed operating conditions from one location to another without the assistance of an operator. For example, utility module 108 may receive inputs indicative of a desired location within a yard and/or a desired speed at which to travel, and automatically operate locomotive 18 based on the inputs in a quick and predictable fashion. By prioritizing speed and location parameters, utility module 108 may allow locomotives 18 to be quickly and automatically repositioned within a yard when other automatic control strategies that prioritize, for example, fuel economy or precision positioning, may create delays.

To determine how to select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98, control module 96 may be configured to receive one or more inputs and select an energy management module 98 based on the inputs. For example, control module 96 may be configured to receive a location signal indicative of a location of train 14 and select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 based on the location of train 14. The location signal may be received from one of a plurality of sources. For instance, the inputs received by control module 96 via I/O module 102 may include a signal generated by an onboard locating device, such as locating device 80. Control module 96 may be configured to compare the location signal from locating device 80 to stored location data or geo-fence boundaries associated with a particular one of the plurality of energy management modules 98.

This may allow control module 96 to implement the control strategy associated with an energy management module 98 as soon as train 14 enters a certain geographic region where the associated control strategy is applicable. For example, geo-fences 94 (referring to FIG. 3) may be created to allow control module 96 to know when train 14 is at origin 22 or destination 26, about to pass through a tunnel 34 or over an uphill or downhill section 36, 38, near a speed-restricted zone, about to reach a curve, in a rail yard etc., based on the location of train 14. When control module 96 determines that train 14 has entered a goo-fence 94 based on the location signal from locating device 80, control module 96 may then access the energy management module 98 associated with the geo-fence 94 to achieve optimum performance in that geographic region.

In some embodiments, control system 76 may include or be in communication with an automatic train operation module 110 configured to receive a signal from an off-board signaling system indicative of the location of train 14. For example, wayside equipment, off-board sensors and computers, and/or other devices may be associated with the off-board signaling system and configured to monitor the location of train 14 along delivery route 10. The off-board signaling system may generate notifications based on the location of train 14 and send the notifications to the operator (e.g., via display 90) and/or controller 86 of train 14. The notifications may be indicative of a grant or denial of permission to proceed along deliver route 10 until, for example, the tracks ahead are clear of other rail vehicles. Control module may receive a location signal generated by the off-board signaling system in conjunction with this signaling process and base a selection of an energy management module 98 on the location signal.

In some embodiments, the one or more inputs received by control module 96 via I/O module 102 may include an operator input indicative of an operator-selected energy management module 98. Control module 96 may be configured to then select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 based on the operator-selected energy management module 98. For example, the operator may be allowed to access each energy management module 98 via user interface 84 and make a selection based on current operating conditions or tasks. The operator's selection may override automatic selections made by control module 96 based on the location of train 14. In this way, a desired energy management module 98 may be used when, for example, when an energy management module 98 has not been assigned to a geo-fence or location data for a particular geographic region, such as a newly traveled region. This may also allow operators to maintain authority of control during non-standard operating procedures.

In some embodiments, control module 96 may be configured to select one of the energy management modules 98 based on a health condition of train 14. For example, control module 96 and/or automatic train operation module 110 (e.g., in conjunction with off-bard equipment) may be configured to determine the health condition of train 14 based on the operating parameters of train 14 (e.g., based on the inputs received via I/O module 102 and/or other inputs). The health condition of train 14 may be indicative of one or more components, systems, assets 16, and/or other feature of train 14 that have failed or are at risk of failing. In order to mitigate damage to train 14, control module 96 may be configured to identify and select which of the energy management modules 98 is most appropriate for continued operations based on the health condition of train 14. Selections based on the health condition of train 14 may override geographically-based selections and may be subordinate to operator-selections.

To ensure that only one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 has authority to control aspects of train 14 at a given moment, control module 96 may be configured to receive control signals via interface gateway 100 from only the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules. That is, interface gateway 100 may be configured to restrict communications between control module 96 and energy management modules 98 such that only the selected energy management module 98 may be allowed to communicate with control module 96. For instance, interface gateway 100 may be configured to receive an input indicative of the selected energy management module 98 and allow data transfer based on expected inputs and outputs associated with the selected energy management module 98. When energy management modules 98 are third-party modules, interface gateway 100 may also be configured to translate signals exchanged between control module 96 and energy management modules 98. In this way, command authority may be limited to only the selected energy management module 98, and undesired or unexpected data exchanges between control module 96 and energy management modules 98 may be prevented.

One skilled in the art will realize that the processes illustrated in this description may be implemented in a variety of ways and include other modules, programs, applications, scripts, processes, threads, or code sections that may all functionally interrelate with each other to accomplish the individual tasks described above for each module, script, and daemon. For example, these modules may be implemented using commercially available software tools, using custom object-oriented code written in the C++ programming language, using applets written in the Java programming language, or may be implemented with discrete electrical components or as one or more hardwired application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) that are custom designed for this purpose. Other programming languages may be used as desired.

The described implementation may include a particular network configuration but embodiments of the present disclosure may be implemented in a variety of data communication network environments using software, hardware, or a combination of hardware and software to provide the processing functions.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The disclosed control system may be applicable to any transportation network, including subways, trolleys, and railroads. The disclosed control system may increase efficiency in automatic control of machine operations on the transportation network, In particular, the disclosed control system may allow a controller and/or a user to easily select an energy management strategy associated with an energy management module. The disclosed control system may allow energy management modules to be automatically or manually selected based on a plurality of inputs, such as the location of a train, the health status of a train, and/or input from an operator of a train. In this way, energy management modules may be selected to provide an optimum control strategy based on a train's particular operating conditions or current task. An exemplary operation of the disclosed control system will now be explained.

During a delivery operation along delivery route 10, controller 86 may receive signal(s) from sensors 78 indicative of operating parameters associated with train 14 or its assets 16. For example, a signal generated by one of sensors 78 may be indicative of, for example, a coolant temperature, an oil temperature, an oil pressure, a wheel slip condition, or another operating parameter of asset 16. Control module 96 may receive the signals from sensors 78 as inputs via I/O module 102. Control module 96 may also receive a location signal via I/O module 102. (e.g., generated by locating device 80) indicative of the geographic location of train 14. In other embodiments, control module 96 may also or alternatively receive the communication signal from an off-board device or system (e.g., a railroad signaling system).

Based on the location signal, control module 96 may select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 associated with control system 76 and automatically generate command signals for controlling train 14 in conjunction with the selected energy management module 98 and based on the inputs received via I/O module 102. For instance, one or more geo-fences 94 may be established in connection with control system 76, and each geo-fence 94 may be associated with one of the plurality of energy management modules 98. When control module 96 determines that train 14 has crossed one of the geo-fences 94, control module 96 may select the energy management module 98 associated with that geo-fence 94 to provide control signals for automatically controlling train 14.

For example, when train 14 is traveling between origin 22 and destination 26, control module 96 may select travel module 104. Travel module 104 may send control signals to control module 96 in order to achieve optimum performance along travel route 10 by adjusting throttle and brake settings of train 14. Travel module 104 may optimize performance to achieve improved fuel efficiency as train 14 travels through long stretches of track, up or down hills, through tunnels, around curves, etc. When train 14 is at a mine, a port, or other facility, control module 96 may alternatively select load transfer module 106 to help index wagons 20 through loading and/or unloading equipment with precision positioning. When train 14 or locomotive 18 is in a rail yard, control module 96 may select utility module 108 to help automatically move locomotive 18 from one location to another within the rail yard without the assistance of an operator. In each case, the selected energy management module 98 may control train 14 and/or locomotive 18 with throttle control, braking control, and/or other parameter control to achieve optimum efficiency and/or desired performance.

Control module 96 may also or alternatively select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 based on the health of train 14. For example, control module 96 may determine the health of train 14 based on inputs received via I/O module 102 (e.g., signals from sensors 78) and select one of the plurality of energy management modules 98 based on the health of train 14 in order to achieve optimum performance for the current health condition through automatic control. In this way, train 14 may be automatically controlled to achieve optimum or desired performance, such as continuing the mission without fully failing, optimizing performance with reduced available power, or achieving another performance goal in light of the health of train 14.

Control module 96 may also or alternatively receive manual input from an operator of train 14 indicative of an operator-selected energy management module 98 and select one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the operator's selection. The operator may enter an input indicative of a desired energy management module 98 via user interface 84, and control module 96 may then select the energy management module 98 that corresponds to the user selection for carrying out automatic control. In some embodiments, the operator's selection may override automatic selections to provide the operator with ultimate authority of control over train 14.

Several advantages may be realized by the implementation of control system 76. By using control system 76, train operators and managers may be allowed to equip trains 14 with a plurality of energy management modules 98 that are configured to provide optimized automatic control under various operating conditions and during various particular tasks where generic controllers may not be optimum. Control system 76 may provide for automatic selection of an energy management module 98 based on a plurality of circumstances, including location, train health, operator preference, and others. Control system 76 may be easily incorporated into existing train control systems and be configured to communicate with a number of commercially available energy management systems via interface gateway 100. In this way, control system 76 may allow for the successful expansion of automatic train control and the reduction of constant operator supervision under various operating conditions and during particular tasks.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the control system of the present disclosure. Other embodiments of the control system will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the control system disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope of the disclosure being indicated by the following claims and their equivalents.

Claims

1. A control system for a train, comprising:

an input/output (I/O) module configured to receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train;
a plurality of energy management modules, each being configured to generate control signals associated with components of the train based on the operating parameters of the train;
an interface gateway in electronic communication with each of the plurality of energy management modules; and
a control module in electronic communication with the I/O module and the interface gateway and configured to: select one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the one or more inputs received by the I/O module; receive control signals via the interface gateway from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules; and send command signals via the I/O module to components of the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

2. The control system of claim 1, wherein the control module is configured to:

receive a location signal indicative of a location of the train; and
select the one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the location of the train.

3. The control system of claim 2, wherein:

the one or more inputs received by the I/O module includes a signal generated by an onboard locating device; and
the location signal is the signal generated by the onboard locating device.

4. The control system of claim 2, wherein:

the control system further includes an automatic train operation module configured to receive a signal from an off-board signaling system; and
the location signal is the signal generated by the off-board signaling system.

5. The control system of claim 1, wherein:

the one or more inputs received by the I/O module includes an operator input indicative of an operator-selected. energy management module; and
the control module is configured to select the one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the operator-selected energy management module.

6. The control system of claim 1, wherein:

the control system is configured to determine a health condition of the train based on the operating parameters of the train; and
the control module is configured to select the one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the health condition of the train.

7. The control system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of energy management modules includes an automated payload transfer module configured to control movements of the train during one or more of a dumping process and a filling process.

8. The control system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of energy management modules includes a travel module configured to automatically control one more of a throttle and a braking system associated with the train to optimize fuel consumption during travel.

9. The control system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of energy management modules includes a utility module configured to automatically relocate a locomotive from a first location in a rail yard to a second location in the rail yard.

10. The control system of claim 1, wherein the control module is configured to receive control signals via the interface gateway from only the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

11. A method of controlling a train, comprising:

receiving one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train;
selecting, via an electronic control module, one of a plurality of energy management modules based on the one or more inputs;
receiving control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules; and
sending command signals, via the electronic control module, to components of the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

12. The method of claim 11, further including:

receiving a location signal indicative of a location of the train; and
selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the location of the train.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein:

the train includes an onboard locating device; and
receiving the location signal includes receiving a signal from the onboard locating device.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein:

the method further includes receiving a signal from an off-board signaling system; and
receiving the location signal includes receiving a signal from the off-board signaling system.

15. The method of claim 11, wherein:

the method further includes receiving an operator input indicative of an operator-selected energy management module; and
selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules includes selecting the operator-selected energy management module.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein:

the method further includes determining a health condition of the train based on the operating parameters of the train; and
selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules includes selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules based on the health condition of the train.

17. The method of claim 11, wherein selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules includes selecting an automated payload transfer module configured to control movements of the train during one or more of a dumping process and a filling process.

18. The method of claim 11, wherein selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules includes selecting a travel module configured to automatically control one more of a throttle and a braking system associated with the train to optimize fuel consumption during travel.

19. The method of claim 11, wherein selecting the one of the plurality of energy management modules includes selecting a utility module configured to automatically relocate a locomotive from a first location in a rail yard to a second location in the rail yard.

20. A control system for a train, comprising:

An input/output (I/O) module configured to receive one or more inputs indicative of operating parameters of the train;
a plurality of energy management modules, each being configured to generate control signals associated with components of the train based on the operating parameters of the train;
an interface, gateway in electronic communication with each of the plurality of energy management modules; and
a control module in electronic communication with the I/O module and the interface gateway and configured to: select one of the plurality of energy management modules based on at least one of a location of the train, an operator-selected energy management module, and a health condition of the train; receive control signals via the interface gateway from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules; and send command signals via the I/O module to one or more of a throttle and a braking system associated with the train based on the control signals from the selected one of the plurality of energy management modules.

Patent History

Publication number: 20170129513
Type: Application
Filed: Nov 6, 2015
Publication Date: May 11, 2017
Applicant: Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (LaGrange, IL)
Inventor: James D. SEATON (Westmont, IL)
Application Number: 14/935,355

Classifications

International Classification: B61L 27/04 (20060101); B61L 27/00 (20060101);