Monitioring and maintenance of the the continously growing vegetation along the 33.440 km long railway tracks of the Deutsche Bahn is a time intensive and challenging task. In order meet the regulatory requirements for traffic safety, the vegetation at the test track need to be inspected, documented and assessed at least once in a year by qualified technical staff. During this process, the railway traffic must not be interfered.



The project „FreeRail“ develops the scientific-technical basis of a future, fully-automated drone-based system for vegetation monitoring along the railway track of Deutsche Bahn. It carries out the conceptual design and studies the required technologies and operational processes. The result will be a full-functional demonstrator that will tested and validated at a selected railway track.


Research topics

  • Highly reliable and low-latency communication in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)  & Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)
  • Communication technologies for autonmuous civil drones: GSM, GSM-R, LTE, 5G
  • Sensors for drones (camera, radar, lidar) and sensor data fusion

Project partner


Project number: 19F2088C


Project duration

01.09.2019 - 28.02.2022 (30 months)