Laser system promises to help keep trains on the tracks

The US Federal Railroad Administration is turning to lasers to help keep the country's railways in tip top shape. The system, developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, effectively "taps" the railroad tracks with a laser pulse while it flies along the rails at speeds up to 70 miles per hour, checking for both surface cuts and internal cracks with, well, laser-like accuracy. Current track-inspection systems top out at just 30 miles per hour and, according to the researchers, can often miss the more dangerous internal cracks in the track that can lead to derailings. The first tests of the system done back in March were apparently promising, although there are still more tests planned before the admin makes a final decision. But you already know our position: everything's better with lasers.

[Via Futurismic]