Nowadays, power lines inspections are performed by remote sector tests, binocular inspection from the ground and heavy crane intervention for final stages. Because most of the lines are located in areas difficult to access, current methods used are costly and time consuming.
In order to perform quicker and more accurate power line monitoring, the idea of operating drones came to the minds of infrastructure management and energy companies. Indeed, because it can carry a high definition camera while remaining extremely mobile and stable, a UAV is perfectly suitable for such kind of mission.
Real life test performed in Belgium
Therefore, AltiGator was invited to perform some tests by inspecting several electric lines located in the countryside of Wallonia, in Belgium. These lines were suspected to be slightly damaged due to unidentified events.
Prior to AltiGator’s venue, the inspection area was reduced to 1 Km of power lines and pylons thanks to some prior checks and binocular monitoring made from the ground.
The goal of the mission was to spot and locate some damages on a specific line by taking some aerial pictures and recording videos using the OnyxStar XENA.
For this operation, the AltiGator pilot was equipped with an OnyxStar XENA embedding a Sony RX 100 II camera on a 2-axis brushless camera mount. HD live video link was displayed to the pilot and a power line expert. Shutter, recording and other camera functions were controlled directly from the ground station. An expert was also present in order to analyse the data captured between flights after downloading records from the camera SD card.
During the mission, the drone was following the power line from a distance of 1.20 meters at an average height of 30 meters AGL. Such parameter allowed to get high quality and exploitable data.
Results of the mission
Thanks to the operation performed, damages have been located close to suspected spots previously seen by ground identification. The use of the drone confirmed these observations while also clearing the surrounding parts. This monitoring has been performed in only a couple of hours, involving two operators and light equipment as the OnyxStar XENA system had a Take-Off Weight of only 4.6 Kg.
In the end, results of this mission are highly promising. It confirms that drones have a key role to play in power lines monitoring but not only, as many infrastructures can also benefit from aerial view inspection. AltiGator systems have proved to be perfectly suitable for such applications.