BNSF takes every precaution to make sure that all track components including rail, crossties, spikes, bolts and plates and even the roadbed underlying the track are stable and dependable. One of the technologies used for inspecting tracks is its fleet of geometry cars, better known as “geo cars.”

There are two types: the traditional geometry car, which is supported by personnel onboard the consist, and an unmanned version that does not have personnel onboard. On average, BNSF’s geo car fleet annually covers up to 400,000 track miles, with the unmanned cars able to operate 24/7.

Onboard sensors, including cameras, lasers, radar and machine vision systems survey the track structure passing beneath to find a variety of flaws, some imperceptible to the human eye. Data generated by the test cars is processed using algorithms and artificial intelligence to analyze hundreds of millions of bytes of data and determine when and where track maintenance is needed.

Learn more about geo car technology here.