Michael Thiel


Frauscher Sensor Technology

Distributed Acoustic Sensing: Visions and benefits in the railway


  • Status quo of DAS capabilities
  • Lessons learnt from 10 installations around the globe
  • Approaches how to harness this promising technology for specific railway applications


Technologies based on Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing, such as Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), have become heavily requested in the rail industry throughout the last years. So far most of the experiences in using these approaches on tracks have been very positive. Based on results and knowledge gathered in appropriate installations, the presentation of Michael Thiel, CEO Frauscher Sensor Technology, will focus on six main areas that have been identified to have a significant impact on the capabilities of DAS-based solutions in the railway industry:

  • Signal
  • Transmission
  • Cable
  • Detection
  • Data processing and classification
  • Application including integration and interfacing

Frauscher has been investigating the possibilities of using DAS in the railway industry for four years now. During that time, the company has gained a lot of insights into the technological principles and all the challenges in the railway environment. Based on that knowledge, the first railway specific set of DAS-based solutions, the Frauscher Tracking Solutions FTS, has been developed to a status that allows implementation of some applications.

Approximately 30 installations around the world have been conducted so far to develop the capabilities of FTS in applications for train tracking, asset condition monitoring and in the field of security. In addition to experiences from ongoing research and development on hardware and software, these installations provide highly valuable input today, which helped to identify the areas of challenges which are described in Mr Thiel’s paper and presentation.

Frauscher is convinced that DAS will become an indispensable and essential technology in the railways industry. It is the only system, which is able to solve a variety of challenges in a very efficient way. Also the fascinating progress that can be recognised in the area of digitisation and other technologies, e.g. in data handling, computing power, deep learning or artificial intelligence (AI) will contribute to the vision of FTS becoming true.


Michael Thiel has decades of diverse experience within the field of railways and signalling technologies. His career has spanned across various fields within the railway industry. After studying at the Friedrich List University of Transportation in Dresden, he has held several positions at the former East German Railways, DE-Consult and at the Adtranz Group. In the further journey of his career, he was Managing Director of IVV GmbH, and Head of Operations Central Europe at Bombardier Transportation Signal. Michael Thiel has also been the Head of Marketing and Sales at Balfour Beatty Rail and later the Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Rail Signal in Germany. In 2009 he became CEO of Frauscher Sensor Technology.

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