Boston: using augmented reality to optimise maintenance

Keolis equips employees with smart glasses
The Keolis Group launches a new, innovative pilot project in Boston by equipping maintenance staff with augmented reality glasses. Field mechanics use the smart glasses to stream video and converse in real time with remote expert technicians, meaning repairs can be handled faster, improving service quality across the network.

Innovation powering performance

On September 7th, the Keolis Group placed augmented reality at the heart of maintenance and operational performance of its rail network in Boston, Massachusetts. Keolis Commuter Services (KCS), operator of the city’s commuter rail system, issued field mechanics with an unusual tool: smart glasses. The glasses enable expert technicians in the network’s main maintenance facility to remotely view, diagnose, and resolve maintenance issues, avoiding unnecessary travel. This time-saving initiative is designed to improve teams’ operational performance and optimise the availability of trains.

The glasses are connected to a smartphone, enabling a mechanic on the network to use the Internet to stream video and converse in real time with an expert based in the office. Employees can also take screenshots, annotate images, send procedures, or exchange written messages. The data stream is encrypted, and can be transferred via cellular connection (3G, 4G), Wi-Fi, or Ethernet cable. Keolis uses software developed by AMA XpertEye, a subsidiary of the Brittany-based company, AMA SA. The Android-based operating system, specifically designed for augmented reality, is loaded onto glasses from manufacturers including Epson, Vuzix, ODG, and Google.

A solution tailored to local constraints

KCS chose to test the solution against the specific constraints of the Boston network; including scenarios where experts were previously required to travel to remote maintenance sites or stations to diagnose a problem and put a locomotive back in service, or needed to transport a train to the main service facility in the event of a more complex failure.
If the pilot project proves successful, widespread distribution of glasses will enable field staff to conduct emergency repairs quickly and easily, and put trains back in service more rapidly. The positive outcome of the trial on a local level should lead to the gradual deployment of this innovative approach across the Group.

Keolis at the forefront of innovation

This initiative reflects Keolis’ ability to always keep one step ahead in the field of connected mobility, benefiting customers – notably with the Group’s PlanBookTicket solution, the first 100% digital public transport application – as well as employees. In March 2016, four hundred customer-facing staff in Boston were issued with iPhones featuring an internal application specially designed by Keolis. The app provides staff with direct access to real-time data, helping them keep passengers better informed about the status of the commuter rail system.