Automatic equipment identification (AEI) is an electronic recognition system in use with the North Americanrailroad industry. Consisting of passive tags mounted on each side of rolling stock and active trackside readers, AEI uses RF technology to identify railroad equipment while en route.
In the late 1960s, railroads in North America began searching for a system that would allow them to automatically identify rail cars and other rolling stock. Through the efforts of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), a number of companies developed automatic car identification (ACI) systems. The AAR selected four systems for extensive field tests. General Electric developed an RFID system, ABEX a microwave system, Wabco a black and white barcode system, and General Telephone and Electronics (GTE) a color barcode system called KarTrak. The RFID system used a tag mounted under the rail car and an interrogator installed between the rails. The other three systems had labels that were mounted on each side of the rail car and a trackside scanner.
After the initial field tests, the ABEX, Wabco, and the GTE KarTrak ACI systems were selected for a head-to-head accuracy test on the Pennsylvania Railroad, at Spruce Creek PA. The KarTrak system was declared the winner and selected by the AAR as the standard. Further information: KarTrak
The KarTrak system was abandoned by the late 1970s. Because of this failure, the railroad industry did not seriously search for another system to identify rail cars until the mid-1980s. …