Browse Catapults
Transport System Catapult - Logo Home

Network Rail's Robotic Systems Horizon Scan Opportunity

Connected Places Catapult are helping Network Rail to explore how the latest innovations and technologies in the field of robotics can help them to advance their maintenance operations, helping to both increase the speed of maintenance operations while protecting their health of their workforce.

We’re looking to hear from organisations who may be able to provide some or all elements of the technology they need to address the maintenance challenges they have.

Ongoing maintenance operations are an essential part in keeping the rail network running smoothly and effectively. However maintenance operations can affect the running of rail services, and in addition come with a direct financial cost. There is also a continuous risk to the health and safety of personnel involved in the maintenance operations. The use of robotics technology may be able to support some of the common maintenance operations that Network Rail carry out, which are currently highly manual tasks.

Specific use cases and operations have been identified for which robotic assistance may be of significant help. These include: the routine inspection of the rails for condition and defects; assistance with the replacement of heavy support structures at rail points; extraction and replacement of ballast for wet bed treatment.

We’re looking for organisations and innovators to propose what technology they have to address some or all of the needs which Network Rail have. We’re not looking for a fully costed proposal at this stage. This project is intended to understand the state of the market and identify potential suppliers who could quickly move forwards towards real world trials.

For more information on the challenge to be address and how to submit a response, please click on this link.

We will be hosting an information and support webinar on 3rd August at 10am. Please register here.


Below are three artist impression illustrations of the concepts that are within this opportunity.

Example concept of a robotic application for wet bed treatment on the MMT - image property of Network Rail and PA Consulting
Example concept of an automated inspection vehicle - image property of Network Rail and PA Consulting
Example concept of a Robotic assistance for tubular stretcher bar installation - image property of Network Rail and PA Consulting