Cable car pioneers unique use of Panomera

Cologne, Germany and Regensburg, Germany

The first undertaking anywhere in the world in which the patented Panomera camera technology is used to monitor a cable car carrying rope.

The Cologne Cable Car project is the first undertaking anywhere in the world in which the patented Panomera camera technology is used to monitor a cable car carrying rope. In order to guarantee the passengers' safety at all times, the operators require rapid visual detection of possible technical problems, particularly in the structure of the carrying cable.

Every year, over half a million passengers soar over the Rhine at a height of 30 metres with the Cologne Cable Car – and are rewarded with an unparalleled view of the city and cathedral. For ensuring the safety of the carrying rope construction, Kölner Seilbahn relies on the Panomera camera technology of Regensburg-Germany based manufacturer, Dallmeier.

Carlos Castro, Operations Manager of Kölner Seilbahn, explains: "Besides the approach of the gondolas to the stations, we observe the way they run onto the pylons. 30 metres up in the air, it is quite possible that a good gust of wind can set the cable and the pylons swinging. To enable early detection of incidents that cause the gondolas to approach the sensitive points out of alignment and to prevent technical problems, we decided to introduce video surveillance using the proven, patented Panomera camera technology."

Long distances pose no problem

The carrying rope is supported on a total of three pylons over the entire distance of just under one kilometre. The resulting distances between the stations and the pylons range in length from 100 metres up to a considerable span of 480 metres over the Rhine itself.  The requirement was for the images to be recorded over very long distances, but without loss of quality. Together with the project team from VTS Video Technik Systeme GmbH, the operators of the Cologne Cable Car found exactly the right solution in Panomera technology.

The Panomera multifocal sensor system was developed specifically to provide full area coverage with video protection for large spaces and long distances. The particular feature of the technology is that multiple sensors having different focal lengths are installed in a single housing and a special software programme compiles a total image in high resolution.

The operator has full control over the entire situation over the entire length of the cables between the pylons, live and in high resolution video images. In potential hazard situations, he can view details in a separate zoom image without losing sight of the overall action. In theory, any number of operators would be able to "take a close look" at a wide range of image areas at the same time.

"The operator has the situation under control at all times! He has access to an uninterrupted total view of the cables and the pylons, while analysing a detail picture of a certain area, at the same time if necessary", says Jürgen Vahlenkamp, managing director of VTS GmbH. "We have succeeded in ensuring that the process of cable car operation is as safe as possible, to the complete satisfaction of our customer."

Customised solution

The wind that blows against the masts and cables 30 metres above the ground can cause them to start rocking, and poses certain challenges not only for the operation of the gondolas but also for the installation of the cameras. To ensure that the camera systems – each weighing more than ten kilos – are not damaged or themselves become a hazard, the cameras were secured to the pylons using special plates. The lenses themselves are installed immovably inside the camera housing and are unaffected by any swinging motion.

Roland Deja, Operations Manager Sales Backoffice at Dallmeier: "With the Dallmeier solution, we have given the go-ahead for cable car monitoring projects. The integrated approach adopted in Dallmeier solutions means that both the cameras and software can be upgraded, e.g., with AI-based assistance systems, at a later time as well. Thus, systems will remain viable for many years into the future and guarantee investment security for the Kölner Seilbahn."


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