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Vehicular Data Handling and Control System

Background of the Invention
This invention relates generally to operation of large vehicles such as locomotives, transit cars, and off-the-road vehicles. In particular, the invention contemplates an on board unit utilizing a system for accumulating and processing operational information relative to the vehicle or vehicles containing the unit.

The operation of large vehicles such as diesel electric locomotives requires control of a large number of quantities vital to satisfactory, economic, and safe operation. This invention provides the means for monitoring quanti-ties for immediate and subsequent evaluation. In particular, when used in a locomotive, speed at a particular track location is essential to analyzing operation, and in addition, provides valuable records for subsequent use in the case of accidents. There are in addition, a large number of additional operating variables such as service pneumatic brake application, dynamic brake application and magnitude, throttle setting, and others associated with the speed and track location, providing vital indications of operating conditions for a given train.

The advent of higher fuel costs, and locomotive operation at high speeds in remote areas makes it necessary to have information which either assists or leads to analysis of vehicle operation so that on given portion of track, road. locomotive operation can be evaluated. A method for utilizing recorded data to provide operating information for an individual vehicle is disclosed in co-pending application 699,075, filed on June 23, 1976, and assigned to the same assignee.

OMPI Prior Art Recorders are disclosed in U.S. Patent Nos.
3,864,731 and 3,938,092, hereby fully incorporated by reference. These units disclose a recorder and a method for utilizing a remote computer for processing the data earlier recorded on board a vehicle. Also incorporated by reference is U.S. Patent No. 4,041,448 disclosing a track marker system.

The unit disclosed provides a substantial advantage over very, early analog recorders utilizing circular charts or magnetic recorders, utilizing individual signal amplitude or frequency. Prior art units recorded data directly on the storage media, thereby limiting the amount and degree of information which can be used for evaluation of vehicu-lar operation.

Furthermore, the prior art recorder provided no direct means for identifying the location of a particular vehicle on its track, except from its- relationship from either end of a known track portion. The prior art approach, therefor requires tedious and complicated methods for processing the basic recorded data so as to be able to relate any of the recorded functions with a particular track location.

An additional, particular shortcoming of these prior art units was the essentially fixed method or scheme for recording a predetermined quantity of events or operational data such as brake applications and throttle position relat ing to speed and location of the vehicle. Recorded quanti-ties were essentially "built in" to each unit and required substantial system changes to vary recorded quantities.


It is therefore an object of this invention to provide an onboard data handling system which records vehicular operational information in a prescribed mode easily variable from unit to unit.

It is. a further object of this invention to provide an onboard data acquisition system utilizing tape storage means for handling the data in a format readily useable by conventional data processing equipment, in a subsequent operation.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide an onboard data processing and recording unit which can also provide operating speed, time and locomotive operational parameters with a continous display.

It is a still further object of this invention to provide an onboard data handling' and recording system capable of accumulating, storing and recognizing certain critical values of said data and providing alarm indications to _ the vehicular operator.

It is an additional object of this invention to provide an onboard data processing system which recognizes critical parameters as they are accumulated and recorded and provides corrective signals to the operator.

It is a further object of this invention to provide an on-board data handling and processing system which is capable of recognizing critical data as it is accumulated and recorded and applies pre-determined corrective action to reduce said critical quantities to acceptable values.

An additional object of this invention is to provide an onboard system capable of measuring speed and controlling

OMPI WIPO power generation and/or braking so that a pre-determined speed or speeds may' be maintained for the purpose of decreasing the possible destructive tractive or braking forces due to changing power requirements of a multi-car train.

A further object of this invention is to provide an onboard data handling system wherein vehicular speed is determined by measuring wheel speed during groups of whe rotations, and averaging said measured speed over the overall time of said groups.

An object of this invention is to provide a more accurat display vehicular speed by comparing instantaneous binar coded pre-determined time segments of wheel rotation wit pre-determined binary equivalents , and averaging said instantaneous speed for updating a display.


The unit disclosed herein overcomes the aforementioned difficulties by incorporating additional data processing equipment in unique combination with magnetic tape record- ing means, displays, and other uniquely identified quantities along with the vehicular speed signal. In addition, the unit disclosed in this application is capable of recognizing the presence of a marker, located adjacent to the railroad track which although passive in nature, responds periodically to a signal transmitted by the locomotive to provide a signal which is uniquely associated with a particular track location.

A particularly novel feature of this invention is the utilization of pre-recorded command signals or instructions on the magnetic tape. On initial run-in, these instructions establish an operating format for each system.
After this format is recorded, subsequent data from the vehicle as received from associated transducers is printed on an adjacent portion of the tape in a format unique to that cartridge. In this way recording and control functions can easily be modified from one unit to another. -

In accordance with the invention, therefore, a system disclosed herein utilizes onboard read-only memory, and
read-write memory programmed from the tape along with
associated transducers and devices interfacing the unit and components of the vehicle in order to accumulate,
process, and record vehicular operational data. Certain of the recorded data can be compared with pre-determined standards^ and depending on detected differences, corrective signals generated. Alternately, alarm or other signals can be generated to alert or inform vehicle operators of necessary corrective action.

Information is also supplied in a form suitable for

/,, WIPO _ optical display. Quantities relating to train operation are therefore continuously and instantaneously available for direct viewing by the vehicle operator.

In a preferred embodiment as disclosed herein, vehicle speed information coming from an axle operated pulse generator provides a basic pulse train for recording vehcile distance and other associated vehicle quantities. Greatly improved accuracy in speed and distance measurement is provided by measuring successive time periods of pulses generated by wheel rotation. A pre-determined number of pulse periods is summed, and recorded. The tim average of a group of summed periods is determined, and recorded.

Additionally, one embodiment of the system at all times recognizes unique signals from a track mounted transponde This transponder is disclosed in U.S. No. 3,898,619 said patent incorporated by reference herein.

Therefore, in operation, the system utilizing a predetermined tape cartridge examines a portion of the tape, utilizes the information contained therein to establish pre-determined decision points, information processing functions and alarm levels, after which the remaining tape is utilized for the recordal of the signals so processed. This recorded data is later analyzed by data processing equipment.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent on reading the following detailed description * and upon reference to the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a functional block diagram, the unit showing a preferred but not exclusive embodiment.

FIG. 2 is the physical configuration of the main processing unit of the preferred embodiment, including the panel layout.

FIG. 3 is a pictorial view of the tape deck and cartridge shown in its relationship to the main processing unit in a typical installation.

FIG. 3a shows tape cartridge and associated equipment.

FIG. 4 is a semi-pictorial schematic diagram showing a typical application of the invention on a locomotive, with transducer inputs.

FIG. 5 is a typical operational profile of vehicle operation, constructed from data recorded according to the invention.

FIG. 6 is a block digital logic diagram showing the novel method of determining speed according to the invention.

Turning first FIG. 1, FIG, 2, and FIG. 4, the main proc ing unit (MPU)l, contains the major signal handling and processing modules designated as follows:

The Vapor advance system electronics module (VASE) 5, c sisting essentially of a microprocessor such as INTEL 8080A, or equivalent, containing a programmed read-only memory 4 and a random access memory (7.) . A system bus (within the MPU1) connects all input/output modules suc as the TAD 10, MABS 25 and BAEM 15, to the VASE 5, providing continuous intra-communication. Also contained in the MPϋ are the tape, display, axle unit (TAD) 10 which interfaces the data recorder unit 11, and the end of axle pickup 12 and a display unit 19 to the system b The axle pickup provides electrical pulses generated by a designated vehicle wheel.

A battery activated event monitor 15 (BAEM) and battery activated event conditioner 16 (BAEC) are utilized to provide "conditioned" signals from the existing "train-line" control system to the system bus. These trainline signals provide vehicle operation information such as braking and throttle control. In the event of high electrical transient disturbances on these trainlines , the BAEC, and BAEM optically isolate the system bus from these transients.

Continuing on in the main processing unit, the marker, analog to digital, brake, and serial number unit (MABS) 25 provides access to the system bus from various pre-designated vehicular information inputs. Those indicate are; airbrakes 26, traction motor current 27, track marker controller 28, and coded market interrogator 29. The latter elements 28 and 29 are essentially described in U.S. No. 3,898,619 as indicated above an 'incorporate by reference. A companion unit, the coded marker trans-ponder 30 is indicated in phantom. relationship with

OM ele ent 29. The function of these two is as indicated earlier described fully in the above reference patent.

Components of the main processing unit 1 are completed by the power supply module 35 as shown.

In operation, a tape cartride 18 is inserted in the access area of the data recorder 11, as shown in FIG. 3a. This tape 'contains data recording space, and a pre-recorded set of object instructions for VASE (5) module. Use of this . cartridge results in recording these instructions in the random access memory.

To initiate operation, a tape is located through access door 40 (FIGS. 3 and 3a) . With the door closed and the power on, the VASE unit 5, initiates a tape cycle via the read only memory. During the tape cycle, pre-recorded instructions are "loaded" into the random access memory in the VASE unit 5.

After loading, the unit is now in a position to record, process, and/or display data. In the event of a stationary vehicle, or motion less than two tenths of a mile per hour, "stop" time, i.e. no distance, is recorded. Any measured quantity that changes, will cause a storage of data in the random access memory, including the elapsed time since the last storage. If 15 minutes passes and no data changes, indication of the elapsed time of 15 minutes will be stored, and the elapsed time counter will be reset for the next count. It should be noted that the concept of data compression on a distance basis disclosed in U.S. Patent 3,864,731, is now applied to events on a time basis. When the random access memory is filled with data, the data is then transmitted via the system bus and the TAD module to the tape. A hard wired serial number unique to each particular MPU is recorded on the tape each time RAM information is dumped or transferred to tape.

OMPI With the tape in place and functioning, as the vehicle begins operation at* speeds greater than two tenths mile per hour, pulses from the axle input 12 are monitored by the tape unit 10 as indicated in above incorporated by reference patent 3,864,731.

In operation, as indicated above, the time based data compression is initiated by the axle pickup generating pulses at a rate of approximately 30,000 per mile of vehicle travel or 60 times for each revolution of a typi vehicular wheel. With reference to FIG. 6, end of axle pulses 32 are applied to a divider stage 34, dividing pulses 36 and providing pulse 36 the inverse of 36, 38. It should be noted that the width of pulses 36 and 38 is now twice that of the end of axle pulses 32, making the time duration approximately equal to the period of 32.

The high pulse 36 is now applied to counter 40 and the l or not pulse 38 supplied to counter 42. Counters 40 and 42 are driven by the clock 44 contained in the MPU 10. Therefore, pulse outputs -47 and 49 are applied to "or" gate 50 for purposes of generating a stop pulse 52, to be discussed later.

Since counters 40 and 42 are driven by pulses 36 and 38 their registers contain counts of clock pulses during periods enabled by the pulses 36 and 38. Since pulses 36 and 38 are the logical inverse of one another, counters

40 and 42 will be enabled, on alternate periods of a cycl of axle pickup pulses 32. Therefore, the counter registe will contain a measure of the time period of sequential pulses coming from the axle pickup, and therefore are proportional to the speed of the axle during the enabled pulse period.

The registered counts of 40 and 42 are then transferred t the random access memory 7 via the system bus 6, where

OMP further communication with an interpolating table lookup program provides an' instantaneous binary value of speed during the particular period contained in the counter register. Therefore, utilization of the system described above provides instantaneous measures of the wheel speed on alternate cycles of pulses as measured by the end of axle pickup 32.

These, instantaneous speeds are accumulated for approximately one-half wheel revolution or approximately 30 cycles and averaged to provide a final "refined" speed for recording. The averaging process eliminates the effects of eccentricity of the end of axle pickup, and furthermore provides improved accuracy through redundant measurements .

A further advantage of the cumulative time measurement of one-half vehicle wheel revolution provided, as described above, is the availability of a binary coded mileage value for use in updating the display 19. In this case the alternate and sequential values of mileage after averaging are applied to the read-out or display unit providing a recent and accurate value for use within the vehicle.

Returning to FIG 6 , an additional function of the counters 40 and 42 as provided by the application of output pulses 47 and 49 to the "OR" gate 50. As indicated above, the nature of the divide pulses 36 and 38 enables counters 40 and 42 on alternate cycles. However, on these alternate one-half cycles as pulse 36 goes "high", for example, counter 40 is reset. Therefore, pulses 47 and 49 are not applied to the "OR" gate 50 while divide pulses are supplied to 40 and 42. However, in the case of a stopped vehicle, the pulses 32 would cease and either one or the other of counters 40 and 42 would continue in the enabled state, providing clock pulses to the "OR" gate 50 resulting in "STOP" pulses 52.

The "STOP" pulses are then further stored" in the random

OMPI IPO access memory for periodic transfer to the tape storage The concept of averaging sequential pulse account perio provides an additional and novel "STOP" pulse which is utilized to store and record periods of vehicle inactiv This information is highly valuable in vehicle manageme

Functioning in a manner similar to that indicated in U. Patent 3,864,731, internally contained clocks, gates an registers result in generating speed and distance signa corresponding to the vehicular speed in miles per hour.

In keeping with the invention, the unit disclosed herei performs these functions under control of the VASE 5. Techniques of signal identification, comparison with pr quantities , generation of print f nction are performed the internally stored program of the VASE 5. The signa is further processed by the tape axle display unit TAD and stored in scratch pad memory. A second series of pulses is further converted into vehicle speed, and the first and second speeds are compared. If these speeds d not vary by more than a prescribed amount the speed measuring cycle continues until a speed variation of greater than a prescribed amount or a distance interval greater than a prescribed amount is reached. At this ti the latest speed signal is stored in random access memor for later recording on the tape cartridge.

If in the initial setup of the processor, it was desired to measure other locomotive operating parameters such as accumulated distance, traction motor current, air brake application, or others, these quantities, interfaced in manner as described above, will also be recorded coin-ciding with speed and distance. The events of quantitie shown on FIG. 1, FIG. 4, and FIG. 5, are interfaced to t main processing unit 1, through their individual transducing elements, as described above. As shown, use of the disclosed unit to record the above quantities, typically includes air brake pressure monitors 31, and

O and traction motor current transducer 27. Other quantities would be measured in a similar manner. Therefore, all predetermined quantities have been made available to the main processing unit, and if desired, recorded at a pre- determined interval of distance and/or time.

It should be pointed out that the pre-determined program "loaded" into the random access memory can also be made responsive to pre-determined levels of any of the input quantities or combinations. . Recording can be effected providing values of speed, distance, and airbrake applications, or traction motor current, or pre-designated distance along the track as indicated by the mileage recorded or track transponder. Therefore, for a given vehicle it is possible to obtain a recording of a "pro-file" of operating information allowing a subsequent evaluation of the unit performance either for maintenance or other functional purposes . A typical profile is shown in FIG. 5.

An additional concept of 'vehicular operation contemplated by the invention involves the utilization of the recorded quantities measured for along with other data such as a locomotive speed or throttle position to determine a real time corrective signal to be applied -to the vehicle, in order to maintain a desired speed or rate of change of speed or other quantity, corresponding to a given location on the track. This feature is particularly important in the case of freight trains where it is well known that due to certain grades and/or track conditions present at known locations it is necessary to accelerate, or maintain con-stant speed of a train in order to prevent derailment or . destruction of the car couplers.

Additionally-, the invention contemplates annunciating through displays and/or alarms, the occurring of certain pre-determined combinations of measured quantities in the ' event that it is desired to alert the operator.

As those skilled in the control art will readily recogni the types of operating instructions which can be program read-only memory in the VASE module and/or the random access memory located in the VASE module, essentially pr vide the capability for any modes of control or derived readout quantities. These include acceleration, rate of change of acceleration, excessive dynamic braking, excessive pneumatic service braking, and the like.

The concept of data recording, processing and vehicular interfacing contemplated and disclosed provides vehicle operators with a tremendously valuable, operational devi which allows economic, safe, and easily varied informati retrieval, and/or control of vehicular operation.

Thus it is apparent that there has been provided in acco ance with the invention, .data handling and recording equ ment that fully satisfies the objects, aims, and advanta set forth above. While the invention has been described conjection with a specific embodiment providing a best m of operation, any variations will be apparent to those skilled in the locomotive and control arts in light of th description. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives or modifications as fall within the spi and scope of the claims.