Next page >>
Repairing power lines in the aftermath of a storm is tough enough, but sometimes finding and assessing the damage is an even harder chore, as utilities well know. Fallen trees, icy roads and other obstacles frequently make it incredibly difficult for crews to reach locations to evaluate damage to distribution lines.
But the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has been working on the challenge and has come up with what sounds like a real solution: unmanned aircraft (drones) equipped with high-definition video cameras that can transmit useful real-time information to utilities. By transmitting the images from heights of from 5,000 to 7,000 feet, the drones can send accurate information to help utilities evaluate the damage.
"Our research clearly shows that drones may provide utilities a tool that could reduce outage restoration time," said Matthew Olearczyk, senior program manager for distribution research at EPRI. "Using live streaming video information, utility system operations would be able to dramatically improve damage assessment."
And that better information can help operators more quickly and effectively send out crews, determine repair priorities and communicate more accurate and up-to-date information to customers.
Researchers evaluated a number of drone technologies in terms of aircraft performance, control systems and payload. EPRI found that drones could be deployed quickly, making it possible for utilities to cover a much larger area than ground crews can. The organization also is looking at drones and their remote sensing technologies for overhead transmission line inspections.
You might also be interested in ...
We, Robots: How robotics could revolutionize the smart grid
EPRI robot does the legwork in LED lighting study on energy efficiency
Next page: Read the EPRI press release >>