Wheel flats have become a major problem affecting the long-term service of railway systems. Wheels with flats create intermittent impact loads to trains and rails. This not only accelerates the deterioration of vehicle and track components but also leads to abnormal wheel-rail contact conditions. An effective method for detecting wheel conditions is urgently needed to ensure the operation of the railway and provide guidance for the repair of wheels. However, most previous researches have used qualitative detection methods, and hence have been unable to achieve accurate positioning of the wheel flats. In addition, the theoretical basis for the layout scheme for wheel flat detection sensors is lacking, making it impossible to meet the needs of field applications. In this study, we simulated the spatial distribution characteristics of rail strain, under different wheel flat conditions, and based on this, a layout scheme of multisensor arrays was proposed which more effectively captured the responses of the wheel flats. A wheel flat recognition and precise positioning method based on multisensor fusion was designed. The algorithm was validated through the combination of experimental and simulation methods. The result shows that the algorithm can ideally detect and locate the wheel flats under complex conditions.
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