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International Journal of Vehicular Technology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 914351, 5 pages
Research Article

Detection of Overhead Contact Lines with a 2D-Digital-Beamforming Radar System for Automatic Guidance of Trolley Trucks

1Institut für Hochfrequenztechnik und Elektronik (IHE), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Kaiserstraße 12, 76128 Karlsruhe, Germany
2Siemens AG, Corporate Technology, CT RTC ELE RFT-DE, Otto-Hahn-Ring 6, 81739 München, Germany

Received 19 October 2012; Accepted 21 January 2013

Academic Editor: Kuo-Kun Tseng

Copyright © 2013 Marlene Harter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The benefit of trolley truck systems is the substitution of the diesel fuel by the cheaper and more ecological electrical energy. Trolley trucks are powered by electricity from two overhead contact lines, where one is the supply and the other the return conductor. Such trolley trucks are used for haulage at open pit mining sites but could also be used for freight traffic at roadways in the future. Automatic guidance prevents the trolley-powered trucks from leaving the track and thus allows higher operating speeds, higher loading capacity, and greater efficiency. Radar is the ideal sensing technique for automatic guidance in such environments. The presented radar system with two-dimensional digital beamforming capability offers a compact measurement solution as it can be installed on top of the truck. Besides the distance measurement, this radar system allows to detect the location and inclination of the overhead contact lines by digital beamforming in two dimensions. Besides automatic guidance, the knowledge of the inclination of the overhead contact lines could allow automatic speed adaption, which would help to achieve maximum speed especially in hilly terrain.