Keolis will use virtual reality goggles to speed up maintenance

AMA XPertEye

Remember when the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority wanted its riders to avoid using virtual reality goggles on its subway trains?

The agency’s commuter rail operator is taking the opposite tack: Keolis Commuter Services wants its workers to test out Google Glass-like technology to speed up maintenance on its locomotives and coaches.

Starting next month, workers will use three pairs of glasses with technology from AMA XPertEye, a Cambridge startup connected to a larger French company called AMA.

Keolis hopes workers who encounter broken-down trains out on the tracks will be able to use the goggles to transmit images and communicate with the company’s expert maintenance technicians who work out of Boston’s maintenance facility. That way, those maintenance workers — who would be able to view the images on a computer — won’t have to travel out to the far-flung train, increasing delays and headaches for commuters.


Yann Veslin of Keolis says that if problems are too complex, the company usually has to send maintenance workers out from a facility in Bostonst so they can troubleshoot them.

But with the new goggles, which were first reported by MIT Technology Review, Veslin said the maintenance experts can now be out on the tracks virtually, helping workers fix the problem.

“We hope to save time,” said Veslin, the company’s operating planning and performance improvement manager.

Anne Fleur Andrle, CEO of AMA XPertEye, doesn’t quite call the technology augmented reality, but she uses the term “augmented vision” or “augmented reality lite.”

She said transportation companies are increasingly turning to her company for help. The futuristic technology helps cut costs, she said, but it also helps the environment by cutting down on unnecessary travel.

“You don’t have to fly your best engineer out to LA, because there’s someone in the field with the glasses out there to do the quick fixes,” she said.


Andrle said the company’s Android-based technology works with several kinds of hardware, whether it’s the lightweight Google Glass or the more heavy-duty goggles that Keolis will be using.

Veslin said the company will test the technology out for a month, and then decide whether to deploy the technology more widely.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.