A recent collaboration between industry partners and Network Rail has led to the creation of a full digital twin of King’s Cross Station in London through use of drones, mobile scanners and other digital solutions.
The chief goal of the project was to build a comprehensive digital asset for Network Rail’s new asset management system, Citadel.
RUAS, the uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) Division of drone company and Robotics & Automation Awards finalist Railscape Ltd., supported the project.
The company provided Network Rail with a NavVis VLX-2 mobile scanner and a DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone combined with the DJI Zenmuse P1 camera to capture high-precision data for the development of a 3D digital model of the site.
Much of the scanning was performed at night to minimise station disruptions; in addition to the scanner, drone and camera, RUAS used the Zoom95 Series Robotic Total Station from GeoMax.
Control points were implemented during the project to both ensure that SLAM was being controlled, as some of the environments being scanned required movement through stairs and narrow hallways, which are not ideal conditions for SLAM.
The control points were also used to put the resulting scans on the OSGB grid, meaning that other datasets, such as that from the UAV capture, would align.
A mobile scanner was used to capture data for the station’s interiors, with RUAS reporting that it worked to a 6mm accuracy.
The DJI M300 drone was deployed to conduct aerial surveys and gather high-resolution imagery of the exteriors.
Following the data collection process, RUAS merged the lidar data from the mobile scanner with the photogrammetric model generated from the drone imagery to achieve a 3D digital replica of station.
By successfully developing a digital twin, Network Rail hopes to improve asset management at the site, as well as operational efficiency and cost savings through reduced on-site inspections.