Brightline awarded $1.6 million grant to develop AI safety monitoring program

First-of-its-kind system to collect data from locomotives
Brightline train smashes into vehicle
Posted at 2:33 PM, Sep 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-30 14:33:39-04

MIAMI — Brightline and technology partner Wi-Tronix have been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to collect real-time data of trespass activity for an artificial intelligence safety monitoring system.

Images and video will be collected along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks from Miami to Orlando.

Data will be come from locomotive front-end cameras to guide future decisions related to infrastructure, enforcement and education, Brightline said in a news release. Once developed, the first-of-its-kind system could be used by railroads across the country.

The $1,648,000 came from FRA's Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements competitive grant program.

“This CRISI grant will help keep people safe, with federal investment going towards innovative technologies that will provide new data to address railroad trespassing activities, ultimately reducing the potential for collisions along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor,” FRA Deputy Administrator Jennifer Mitchell said. “Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CRISI funding has quadrupled, and we're proud to put those investments towards an effort that will inform future infrastructure decisions and safety upgrades along a growing rail corridor providing freight and passenger rail benefits in several Florida communities.”

Wi-Tronix, LLC delivers advanced IoT platforms for the rail industry and provides actionable information and insights on how networks are performing in real time.

The company already has AI-enabled cameras and its onboard platform, including two million thumbnail images and 135,000 hours of video footage every day.

“We want to thank the Biden Administration, USDOT and the team at the FRA for their commitment to this project and their dedication to rail safety in Florida and across the country,” Michael Lefevre, Brightline's vice president of operations, said. “It's our hope that this project, the first to be deployed at scale, will utilize AI technology to drive data-informed decisions along our corridor and establish a cutting-edge technology for the rest of the industry.”

Brightline plans to install upgraded, high-definition forward-facing cameras on each of its 21 locomotives.

Those cameras will collect data, which will be used to develop and train an AI model to identify unsafe behaviors around the corridor. This information will empower Brightline to more accurately identify areas for additional community outreach, law enforcement presence or engineering projects, the company said.

On Sept. 21, Brightline extended service from West Palm Beach to Orlando. That same day, a person crossing the southbound tracks was struck and killed by a Brightline train in Delray Beach. Police spokesman Ted White said it appeared to be a suicide.

On Thursday, a 25-year-old homeless man was struck and killed by a Brightline train in St. Lucie County, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. Detectives said a northbound Brightline train struck and killed the man, who was trespassing on the railroad tracks, just north of Midway Road.