Automated plant monitoring on Austria's railways and roads enables efficient and environmentally friendly vegetation control and increased safety.
Plants on transport routes can damage structures and endanger safety. The removal of the plants or the avoidance of the growth means both a high financial expense for the operators of the transport infrastructure, e.g. the ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen) and ASFiNAG, and a personal risk of accidents and damage for the users of this infrastructure.
In order to keep the impact on the environment low, plant protection products should only be used where absolutely necessary. To achieve this, on the one hand a selective and sparing use of chemical plant protection products is necessary, and on the other hand the use of physical and thermal measures specific to the plant species. This is important because with certain plant species, leaving cuttings lying around contributes to their spread, but a precautionary removal of all cuttings is very uneconomical. Certain plant species can cause allergies, so knowledge of their locations is relevant for worker protection.
For all this, it is elementary to know which plant species grow where and to what extent. Only with this knowledge can plant species-specific, sustainable and environmentally compatible vegetation control measures be planned and efficiently implemented by infrastructure managers. This applies to transport infrastructure at federal, and also state and municipal level.
Over the next two years, the FloraMon research project will research and develop a system for the area-wide recording of vegetation density, as well as relevant and particularly problematic plant species. This includes the pictorial recording of plants along the rail and road network at very high speed, the evaluation of the location and frequency of occurrence of specific plant species (neophytes and others) using AI methods, and the clear presentation of this plant information in geographical information systems. Based on this, ÖBB and ASFiNAG can efficiently plan and implement environmentally sound plant control measures, which both reduces infrastructure maintenance costs and ensures the safety of road and rail users.
The FloraMon team combines the
- knowledge of ÖBB and ASFiNAG for necessary vegetation control measures with the
- biological knowledge of biohelp about occurrence and characteristics of the relevant plants and the
- technological research and development knowledge of JOANNEUMRESEARCH in the field of high-speed image acquisition, AI-based plant detection and GIS presentation.
This combination enables the development of the FloraMon system, which meets the requirements of the transport infrastructure operators ÖBB and ASFiNAG in the best possible way.
FloraMon is funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), ÖBB Infrastruktur AG and ASFINAG within the framework of the programme Mobility of the Future, thematic field Transport Infrastructure Research (vif).