Dhe rail network of Deutsche Bahn is 33,499 kilometers long. It is inspected regularly; twice a year at least, once when trees have leaves and once after they have shed their leaves in autumn. Checks are added irregularly after storms, for example, to check the track bed and overhead lines for damage caused by broken trees. It is Sisyphean work for the DB inspectors. If Florian Seibel has his way, drones will soon take on this task. Controlled by autopilot, they should swarm out in fleet size and perform control flights over long distances.
Since September 2019, the founder and CEO of Quantum Systems has been developing an autonomously flying long-range drone with DB Fahrwegdienste, a subsidiary of DB Netz. The “Freerail” project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The light aircraft can fly across the track with cameras from a height of 30 meters without disrupting rail operations. What currently still has to be done manually in the tests could be done automatically out of sight in 2021 if flights without visual contact are legally permitted.