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United States Patent 3,639,755
Wrege February 1, 1972

REMOTE CONTROL OF A LOCOMOTIVE

Abstract

A communication apparatus has been provided for transmitting multicomponent input signals over a common carrier from a plurality of control stations to one or more remotely controlled locomotives each having a unique call-on address means. The call-on address means is responsive only to input signals having the same call-on address component and each control station includes transmitting means for selectively transmitting control signal components for governing the operation of the locomotive and the call-on addresses. The improvement includes means at each control point coupled to the transmitting means for providing a unique assignment address component to the input signal indicative of the associated control point. Address receiving means on the locomotive having multiple channels is selectively responsive to the associated assignment address and provides a manifestation of the identity of the source of the input signals. Switching means is further included for governing the inputs to the address receiving means and the call-on address means and is responsive to unique address command components of the input signals provided by an assignment address command means located at the control point, for coupling the appropriate address receiving means channel associated with the control station and subsequently decoupling the call-on address means so that only input signals from the first control station to transmit valid input signals are accepted by the address receiving means and thereby all input signals from the other control points are locked out thus assuring exclusive control of the locomotive by the engaged control point at any one time.


Inventors: Wrege; Warren R. (Rochester, NY)
Assignee: General Signal Corporation (Rochester, NY)
Appl. No.: 05/000,341
Filed: January 2, 1970


Current U.S. Class: 246/187B ; 340/12.22
Current International Class: B61L 3/00 (20060101); B61L 3/12 (20060101); H04b 001/00 ()
Field of Search: 325/55,57,51,63 246/187B,DIG.3 343/225

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
2589158 March 1952 Staples
3492587 January 1970 Hutton
3517315 June 1970 Malm
3437997 April 1969 Yoshida et al.
3482046 December 1969 Hughson et al.
Primary Examiner: Hoffman; Drayton E.
Assistant Examiner: Libman; George H.

Claims



What is claimed is:

1. A communication apparatus for transmitting multicomponent input signals over a common carrier from a plurality of control stations to at least one remotely controlled locomotive having a unique call-on address means, responsive only to input signals having the same call-on address component and each control station includes transmitting means for selectively transmitting control signal components for governing the operation of the locomotive and the call-on address wherein the improvement comprises:

a. means at each control point coupled to the transmitting means for providing a unique assignment address component to the input signal indicative of the associated control point;

b. address-receiving means on the locomotive having multiple channels selectively responsive to the associated assignment address for providing a manifestation of the identity of the source of said input signals;

c. assignment address command means for providing a unique address command component to the input signal; and

d. switching means governing the inputs to the address-receiving means and the call-on address means responsive to the unique address command components of the input signals for coupling the appropriate address-receiving means channel associated with the control station and subsequently decoupling the call-on address means so that only input signals from the first control station to transmit valid input signals are accepted by the address-receiving means thereby locking out all input signals from the other control points, and assuring exclusive control of the locomotive by the engaged control point at any one time.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further including a function generator responsive to a function command component of the input signals for providing function signals to apparatus for performing the various operations of the locomotive.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 further including filtering means responsive to each of the components of the input signals for providing the associated signals to the call-on address means, address-receiving means, switching means and function generator.

4. Apparatus of claim 3 including checking means responsive to the call-on address means and the address-receiving means coupled to the switching means for deactivating the switching means if the call-on address and subsequent assignment address manifestation are not received.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the checking means is further coupled to the function generator for inhibiting function signals when said call-on address, and address receiver manifestation are absent.
Description



BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to remote control of a locomotive and in particular to means at various control points for providing command signals to the locomotive and governing its operation and associated means at each control point for locking out control signals from the other control points once a communication link has been established with the locomotive.

There are systems in existence which provide for remote control of railroad locomotives which are exclusive to that particular vehicle. That is, for example, a locomotive having a receiver and a unique addressing means and various control outputs and a transmitter having means for generating an address associated with the particular locomotive and command signals for controlling the various control outputs of the locomotive via the radio communication link. This type of system has a shortcoming in that one particular operator must operate the same locomotive at all times and no other operator can gain control over another locomotive unless his transmitting means has apparatus for transmitting the unique code address of the other locomotive. If, however, two operators have the capability of controlling a particular locomotive at any one time, there would be a possibility of conflicting commands from either of the controllers and obviously an unsafe condition would exist. In a situation in which two or more locomotives and controllers were involved, the apparent dangers would necessarily be multiplied. A system which has successfully been used to offer multiple control point capability of a plurality of control devices is shown in a U.S. Pat. of J. D. Hughson et al., No. 3,482,046 issued Dec. 2, 1969, however, that system uses random keying of a frequency modulated transmitter to prevent interference, while that of the present invention utilizes a different system to provide such protection as shall be explained further in the disclosure.

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a system which obviates the foregoing problems and hazards.

It is also an object of this invention to provide a multiple control capability system with the safety of an exclusive single control system.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

There has been provided a communication apparatus for transmitting multicomponent input signals over a common carrier from a plurality of control stations to at least one remotely controlled locomotive having a unique call-on address means. The call-on address means is responsive only to input signals having the same call-on address component and each control station includes transmitting means for selectively transmitting control signal components for governing the operation of the locomotive and the call-on addresses. The improvement includes means at each control point coupled to the transmitting means for providing a unique assignment address component to the input signal indicative of the associated control point. Address-receiving means upon the locomotive having multiple channels selectively responsive to the associated assignment address is provided for manifesting the identity of the source of the input signals, while assignment address command means generates a unique address command component of the input signal. Switching means governing the inputs to the address-receiving means and the call-on address means responds to the unique address command components of the input signals and couples the appropriate address-receiving means channel associated with the control station and subsequently decouples the call-on address means so that only input signals from the first control station to transmit valid input signals are accepted by the address-receiving means thereby locking out all input signals from the other control points, and assuring exclusive control of the locomotive by the engaged control point at any one time.

For a better understanding of the present invention, together with other and further objects thereof, reference is had to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawing, while its scope will be pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWING

The FIGURE shows a block diagram of the apparatus necessary for practicing the present invention and also depicts expansion to multiple vehicle control by a plurality of control points.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Generally, the apparatus of the present invention operates as follows. A signal is transmitted from any one of the control points and received by one or more of the locomotives within range. The signal includes an identifying address code which when received by a locomotive having corresponding means for decoding the address recognizes the signal as valid for the particular locomotive and issues a signal for readying the system to accept further signals from the particular source. The control point further communicates an address signal within the input signal which identifies itself as the source of the signal. This source address signal is decoded by the apparatus on the locomotive and an address command signal is used from the control point which operates a switching network which decouples the local addressing apparatus and couples an addressing apparatus associated with the source only. Command signals from the source are also issued in the input and are decoded and relayed to control circuits on the locomotive for operating the various functions called for by the control point. Under the circumstances just described, first the locomotive is called by its own address, then the address of the source is identified and locomotive address is switched to the control point address so that all other control points are locked out of communications with this particular locomotive when it is being controlled by a particular control point. When the control point which has influence over the particular locomotive relinquishes control, the locomotive switches back to its local address and is ready for commands from any other control point which issues a valid call-on address and its own subsequent address and commands.

The drawing shows control points A and B which each have means included therein for calling upon each of the remote locomotives 1, 2 and 3, means for identifying themselves to the particular locomotive called, means for commanding an address change, and also means for generating control signals for the various functions of the particular locomotive. Controller A is typical of the type used in the present invention and includes a transmitter 10 for communicating the input signals to each of the locomotives. The transmitter 10 is fed by call-on address selector 9 which provides a call-on address for the particular locomotive to be contacted and assignment address command 8 which contains a command code for the particular station A. Also included in the control point A is a function selector 7 which generates signals corresponding to the different desired functions to be performed by the locomotive called. "A" assignment address 6 is coupled to transmitter 10 and generates an address signal unique to control point A which identifies the control point "A" as the source of the input signals. Control point B contains similar apparatus and is merely shown in the block form in the drawing.

When an operator selects a particular locomotive, he actuates the call-on address selector corresponding to that locomotive and it transmits a call-on address signal. Subsequently, an assignment address is transmitted indicative of the particular control point, to be detected by apparatus on the locomotive so that only signals from that particular source are recognized.

If the operator at control point A wishes to control locomotive 1, he can do so provided that 1 is not being controlled by any other operator. Operator A actuates the call-on address selector 9 for locomotive 1, the signal is fed by transmitter 10 to receiver 11, amplified by the audio amplifier 12 and conveyed to address filter 13. This filter accepts only the address portion of the input signals from the transmitter 10. This signal is then transmitted through the back contacts of relays 14 and 15 to an input on the locomotive call-on address 16. If the address transmitted by the remote control point A is the same as for locomotive 1, the local call-on address 16 accepts the signals and provides an output to address detector 17 which verifies the proper call-on address for locomotive 1. An output from address detector 17 is conveyed to assignment command driver 18 which is then ready for operation.

In addition to a call-on address, operator A transmits an assignment address command for the control point A. This component of the input signal is filtered through command tone filter 19. This filter accepts only the command portions of the input signal. An output of the command tone filter 19 is transmitted to assignment command detector 20 which in this case interprets the signal as coming from control point A. The assignment command detector 20 may be a shift register which upon receiving the assignment address command component of the input signal either sequentially or in parallel may provide certain outputs energized for actuating the assignment command driver 18 to energize either of the relays 14 or 15. In the present operation, the assignment command driver has been keyed to the A assignment address and therefore has actuated relay 14 for decoupling the local call-on address 16 for locomotive 1 and activating an input to "A" assignment address receiver 22. An assignment address component of the input signal keyed to the "A" assignment address receiver 22 from "A" assignment address 6, is filtered through address filter 13 through a front contact of relay 14 directly to the input of "A" assignment address receiver 22. If the assignment address receiver 22 recognizes the assignment address component of the input signal for remote location A as it should, an output is delivered to address detector 17 which again verifies that the proper address has been received and continues to produce an output to the assignment command driver 18 which permits its continued operation in the activated state.

In order to terminate control of control point A over the locomotive 1, the operator merely ceases to transmit assignment address information from "A" assignment address 6 through the transmitter 10 to receiver 11 and so forth. This in turn is detected at address detector 17 that a valid signal no longer exists and the output to assignment command driver 18 is terminated dropping relay 14 to its back contact. In addition, the operator also terminates the output of call-on address selector 9 so that signals calling for locomotive 1 are no longer communicated.

Another output from address detector 17 actuates command relay drivers 24. These drivers enable actuation of relays 25, 25' and 25", etc., which actuate various control circuits in the locomotive for different functions desired. Signals from function selector 7 in remote control point A are filtered through command tone filter 19 which separates the assignment command signals from the function command signals. The function signals are coupled to function command detector 23 which interprets the signals and produces signals to the command relay drivers 24 which in turn actuate the appropriate relay output.

Each of the other locomotives 2 and 3 contain similar apparatus to that on locomotive 1 except that the locomotive call-on address 16 is keyed to another address unique to that particular locomotive. Each locomotive contains, however, assignment address receivers 22 and 21 so that either of the control points A or B can be used to command the operation of the locomotive.

Once a control point has taken over command of a locomotive, no other control point can gain access to the controls of that particular vehicle. This is because the assignment address receivers 21 and 22 are activated and only recognize the particular control point first to transmit a signal which has the correct call-on address; assignment address command; and assignment address. This system effectively locks out all other control points whenever one gains access to the control of the locomotive.

Each control point A and B has certain capabilities as follows. The operator at control point A may call on any one of the locomotives 1, 2 or 3 so therefore operator A must have access to a call-on address keyed to each of the locomotives. The operator also requires access to an assignment address command capable of transmitting a signal which is interpreted by the assignment command detector 20 in order to activate the associated assignment command driver 18 so that the proper assignment address receiver input is activated. It is also necessary that the operator at A have an assignment address unique to his location which identifies the source of the input signals, i.e., "A" assignment address 6. The assignment address in this case is transmitted through the appropriate relay 14 to the "A" assignment address receiver 22. Operator B similarly has access to call-on address 1, 2 and 3 but has a "B" assignment address unique to itself and different from A and an assignment address command.

In order to call a locomotive, therefore, an operator must first transmit a call-on address which readies the locomotive to receive further information; then the operator must provide an assignment address command. This assignment address command causes the locomotive's internal receiving apparatus to shift over to appropriately selected circuitry which will only receive the assignment address of the control point which now has exclusive control of the locomotive. A channel is established and control signals for operating the various functions of the locomotive may be transmitted. These must be transmitted, however, not only as commands, but also with an appropriate assignment address preceding the command so that the locomotive recognizes through the appropriate assignment address receiver that the command is valid and from the proper control point. Once the assignment address is terminated, the system shifts back to a call-on basis. If another call-on address is not transmitted, the locomotive will remain stationary and ready for any other control point to establish a communications link for exclusive control of the vehicle during that time interval.

There has been provided a flexible system which can be used to operate a number of different locomotives from multiple control points and maintain an extremely safe condition over the operation of these vehicles. In addition, if one control point becomes inoperative, another control point can be used to operate the vehicles and thus maintain a most useful efficiency. The system of the present invention therefore solves some of the shortcomings of the prior art and in addition provides a system which is capable of efficient, safe and reliable operation.

While there has been described what is at present considered to be the preferred embodiment of the invention, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the invention, and it is therefore aimed in the appended claims to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

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