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Human, Organisational and Societal Factors in Robotic Rail Infrastructure Maintenance

Golightly, David; Chan-Pensley, Jamie; Dadashi, Nastaran; Jundi, Shyma; Ryan, Brendan; Hall, Amanda

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David Golightly

Jamie Chan-Pensley

Nastaran Dadashi

Shyma Jundi

Amanda Hall


Robotics are set to play a significant role in the maintenance of rail infrastructure. However, the introduction of robotics in this environment requires new ways of working for individuals, teams and organisations and needs to reflect societal attitudes if it is to achieve sustainable goals. The following paper presents a qualitative analysis of interviews with 25 experts from rail and robotics to outline the human and organisational issues of robotics in the rail infrastructure environment. Themes were structured around user, team, organisational and societal issues. While the results point to many of the expected issues of robotics (trust, acceptance, business change), a number of issues were identified that were specific to rail. Examples include the importance of considering the whole maintenance task lifecycle, conceptualizing robotic teamworking within the structures of rail maintenance worksites, the complex upstream (robotics suppliers) and downstream (third-party maintenance contractors) supply chain implications of robotic deployment and the public acceptance of robotics in an environment that often comes into direct contact with passenger and people around the railways. Recommendations are made in the paper for successful, human-centric rail robotics deployment.


Golightly, D., Chan-Pensley, J., Dadashi, N., Jundi, S., Ryan, B., & Hall, A. (2022). Human, Organisational and Societal Factors in Robotic Rail Infrastructure Maintenance. Sustainability, 14(4), 1-28.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2022
Publication Date Feb 2, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 16, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 16, 2022
Journal Sustainability
Print ISSN 2071-1050
Electronic ISSN 2071-1050
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 4
Article Number 2123
Pages 1-28
Keywords Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law; Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment; Geography, Planning and Development
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