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METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR VEHICLE
BACKGROUND OF INVENTION 5
This invention relates generally to the operation of vehicles, and more specifically, to controlling the operation of railroad locomotives.
Modern freight trains can be over a mile long and can include many cars and locomotives. More specifically, such trains typically include more than one locomotive to provide the necessary pulling power and stopping tractive effort. The additional locomotives may be grouped at the head of the train or can appear at locations distributed along the length of the train that are remote from the lead locomotive. Locomotives are coordinated by cable-based communication when co-located at the head of the train or via radiolinked communications when the locomotives are distributed along the length of the train. Distributed configurations simplify slack handling among freight cars and air brake 20 operations, facilitate reducing fuel consumption in large trains, and facilitate reducing inter-freight car forces around curves.
The manner in which train engineers drive a multi- 2J locomotive plus freight train consist has a direct effect on the efficiency of fuel use and maintenance of safe train integrity. Engineers are trained extensively and tend to operate similar routes from day to day, but have limited information to help make decisions that impact performance during a trip. Based 3Q on their past experience with specific locomotives, track grade, weather conditions and the current freight load, drivers adjust throttle and brake settings to maintain speed below posted or dispatcher changed track limits, to arrive at the next destination (to pass a train or move into a siding to 3J allow oncoming traffic passage) at a prescribed time, while simultaneously assuring dynamic slack action among freight cars is minimized.
The engineer and central dispatcher work collaboratively to keep the train on schedule, but each may lack crucial 40 details of the other's environment which would benefit the railroad overall in terms of operations efficiency (throughput of trains) or fuel usage. For example, the train driver may know neither the fuel-efficiency/speed relationship for his train nor the actual slack in required arrival time at the next 45 destination, and so travels at track speed limits using excess fuel. By displaying valid, current information about system and train performance attributes, the driver has an opportunity to make tradeoffs in speed vs. arrival time that minimize fuel use and arrive at the required schedule time. 50
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
In one aspect, a method for pacing a vehicle along a path of travel is described. The method includes determining a geographical location of the vehicle, displaying a vehicle 55 position icon representative of the geographical location, determining an optimal position for the vehicle, displaying a pace icon representative of the optimal position for the vehicle, and operating the vehicle to maintain a vehicle position icon displayed on the operator pace display sub- 60 stantially coincident with the pace icon displayed on the operator pace display.
In another aspect, a system for pacing a vehicle along a path of travel is described. The system includes at least one on-board tracking system configured to determine a geo- 65 graphical location of the vehicle, at least one on-board computer configured to determine a display position of a
pace icon, and at least one on-board operator pace display configured to display the pace icon at a position determined by the on-board computer, the operator pace display further configured to display the vehicle position, as determined by the on-board computer, relative to the pace icon.
In yet another aspect, a locomotive pacing system for pacing a locomotive along a path of travel is provided. The locomotive pacing system includes at least one tracking system configured to determine a geographical location of the locomotive, at least one on-board computer, including a memory and a non-volatile storage medium in communication with the at least one tracking system. The on-board computer is configured to determine a display position of a pace icon. The system also includes at least one operator pace display in communication with the at least one on-board computer wherein the operator pace display is configured to display the pace icon at a position determined by at least one of the on-board computer and a central computer, and the operator pace display further configured to display the locomotive position, as determined by at least one of the on-board computer and a central computer, relative to the pace icon. The pacing system includes a system for monitoring locomotive operation including sensors configured to determine at least one of locomotive speed, engine power, train slack, track curvature, track incline locomotive heading and heading rate wherein heading represents the direction of travel of the locomotive, reverser handle position, tracklines 8 and 9, online/isolate switch position, fuel remaining, and an interface coupled to the sensors and in communication with the on-board computer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an on-board pacing system.
FIG. 2 is block diagram of a train including an on-board pacing system.
FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary transmission of a locomotive message to the central command center.
FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary process of a locomotive message received by a central command center.
FIG. 5 is a screen shot of an operator view of operator display.
FIG. 6 is a data flow diagram that may be used with the pace system shown in FIG. 1.
As used herein, the term "locomotive consist" means one or more locomotives physically connected together, with one locomotive designated as a lead locomotive and the other locomotives designated as trailing locomotives. A "train consist" means a combination of cars and at least one locomotive consist. Typically, a train consist is built in a terminal/yard and the locomotive consist is located at the head-end of the train. Occasionally, the locomotive consist may be distributed within the train consist or attached to the last car in the train consist. Additional locomotive consists within or at the end of trains sometimes are utilized to improve train handling and/or to improve train consist fuel efficiency performance by reducing train drag in curves, or added in route as assists for hills, for unanticipated loss of traction due to weather, track conditions or unplanned emergency stops on grade. A locomotive consist at a headend of a train may or may not control locomotive consists within the train consist.
A locomotive consist is further denned by the order of the locomotives in the locomotive consist, i.e. lead locomotive, first trailing locomotive, second trailing locomotive, and the orientation of the locomotives with respect to short-hood forward versus long-hood forward. Short-hood forward 5 refers to the orientation of the locomotive cab and the direction of travel. Most North American railroads typically orient the lead locomotive short-hood forward to facilitate forward visibility of the locomotive operating crew.
The lead locomotive controls the progress of the train 1Q along a route or path of travel. The lead locomotive controls trailing locomotives using a signaling plus automatic control system (not shown) that relays throttle and brake settings of the lead locomotive to each of the trailing locomotives. The automatic control system may select trailing locomotive throttle and brake settings to be the same as the lead 15 locomotive, or may select throttle and brake settings that are different. The operator of the lead locomotive adjusts the throttle and brake settings of locomotives in the consist to achieve a speed which is consistent with allowable track speed limits and which will keep the train on schedule. 20 Many factors determine the geographical location of where the train should be at any given time. Many of these factors are beyond the sensing capability of the train operator, such as, for example, location and speed of opposing traffic, location of sidings to pass or be passed by another train, 25 needs for refueling and crew changes, locations and schedule of crews performing track maintenance.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an on-board pacing system 10. Although the on-board system 10 is sometimes described herein in the context of a locomotive, it should be under- 30 stood that pacing system 10 can be used in connection with cars, buses, ships, ferries, aircraft, animal and personpowered vehicles and other vehicles as well as any other train consist member. More specifically, the present invention may be utilized in the management of locomotives, 35 trucks, barges submarines, spacecraft and people. Also, and as explained below, each locomotive in a train consist may not necessarily include pacing system 10.
In one more specific aspect of the present invention, pacing system 10 includes a vehicle interface 12 for inter- 40 facing with sensors located in other systems of the particular locomotive on which on-board system 10 is mounted, and an on-board computer 14 coupled to receive inputs from vehicle interface 12. Vehicle interface 12 is electrically coupled to a plurality of sensors 13. Pacing system 10 also 45 includes a tracking system 16, which may include an antenna 17, a communications system 18, which may include an antenna 20. In an exemplary embodiment, tracking system 16 is a GPS receiver utilizing antenna 17. In other embodiments, tracking system 16 may be an automatic or 50 manual system for ascertaining a geographical location of a vehicle. In the exemplary embodiment communications system 18 is a satellite communications system, and tracking system 16 and communications system 18 are coupled to on-board computer 14. In an alternative embodiment, a 55 geographical position of the vehicle may be manually input into on-board computer 14. System 10 also includes a power supply (not shown) for supplying power to components of system 10. In the exemplary embodiment, a radome (not shown) is mounted on the roof of the locomotive and houses 60 the satellite transmit/receive antennas coupled to communications system 18 and an active GPS antenna coupled to GPS receiver 16. In an alternative embodiment, communications system 18 is a radio receiver. In yet another embodiment, data may provided to or from an existing 65 on-board microprocessor train control system and a plurality of associated sensors and data sources (not shown).
An operator pace display 22 is coupled to on-board computer 14 and mounted in a cab of locomotive 42 in a location convenient for the locomotive operator. In the exemplary embodiment, a keyboard 24 is coupled to operator pace display 22 to facilitate input of data from the operator. In an alternative embodiment, operator pace display 22 is a touch screen display such that data input from the operator is entered by touching a screen of operator pace display 22 in areas designated by a software program running on on-board computer 14. In another alternative embodiment, operator pace display may be located remotely from the vehicle being controlled, for example, a satellite or space vehicle may be controlled remotely from earth and the operator pace display would be located at an earth-based command center. In another embodiment, operator pace display 22 may project data output on a perimeter of a cab window of locomotive 42 to create a heads-up display. In still another embodiment, computer input device 24 includes a voice recognition input device and displays and warnings may be supplemented by synthesized voice warnings or other coded audible alarms.
FIG. 2 is block diagram of a train 40 including pacing system 10 and at least one locomotive 42. In the exemplary embodiment, train 40 includes a plurality of locomotives 42 and a plurality of railroad cars 44. In the exemplary embodiment, at least one locomotive 42 includes a GPS receiver antenna 17 for receiving GPS positioning data from GPS satellite 52. Locomotive 42 also includes a satellite transceiver antenna 20 for exchanging, transmitting and receiving data messages with a central command center 60. In the exemplary embodiment, central command center 60 includes at least one antenna 58, at least one central computer 62, including a memory 64 and a non-volatile storage medium 66 including at least one database 68 stored therein, and at least one communications transceiver 70 for exchanging data messages with pacing system 10.
GPS receiver 16 determines a position of locomotive 42 and transmits the position data to on-board computer 14. On-board computer 14 also obtains information from specific locomotive sensors and systems that relate to the operational state of the locomotive through vehicle interface 12.
GPS receiver 16 polls at least one GPS satellite 52 at a specified send and sample time. In the exemplary embodiment, three satellites are used for position determination and four satellites are used for vehicle elevation determination. In an alternative embodiment, other numbers of satellites are used to determine position and elevation of the vehicle. In one embodiment, a pre-defined satellite 52 is designated in memory of system 10 to determine absolute position. A data message including the position and data from vehicle interface 12 is then transmitted to central command center 60 via a data satellite 56 utilizing transceiver 54. In one embodiment, data satellite 56 is a different satellite than GPS satellite 52. In an alternative embodiment, satellite 56 and satellite 52 are the same satellite. Data is also transmitted from central command center 60 to each locomotive pacing system 10 via data satellite 56. Central command center 60 includes at least one antenna 58, at least one central computer 62, and at least one communications transceiver 70 for exchanging data messages with pacing systems 10. In an alternative embodiment, communications between central command center 60 and train 40 uses conventional voice radio communications or data over voice multiplexing.
Navigation data provided by GPS alone can be degraded due to operation in tunnels, lack of visibility of satellite