Generation Drone: The Future of Utility O&M

There may one day be a new generation of transmission line engineers (or wind turbine blade specialists, or bridge engineers, or pipeline technicians, or even agricultural engineers). The next wave of youths into the workforce will be well-equipped with the hand-eye coordination and virtual acumen necessary to handle the controls required to carefully navigate a small-unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) (better known as a “Drone”) around obstacles like an energized high voltage transmission line. They will be looking through first person view (FPV) goggles, or watching streaming video to find cracked welds, corroded, or worn line hardware, broken insulators, or burned strands on the conductor. Or, they may be writing computer code that will turn these sUAS into “smart” devices that can autonomously fly to a predetermined global positioning system (GPS) location, and through feature recognition algorithms, zoom in on programmed elements of interest, and snap photos/videos, or capture important data and stream it to a ground station instantaneously for further technical analysis. Or, perhaps with a robotic arm, manipulate it to reach out and touch or grab something. Such innovation is developing so rapidly that if you blink, you might well miss the technology train. Just as LIDAR has transformed line siting and design, sUAS technologies may well transform the industry once again. These flying systems are “cool”, but the payload they will carry – the micro sensors, etc. will rapidly advance vision and data collection technologies to a point beyond belief.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 190-201
  • Monograph Title: Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures 2015: Technical Challenges and Innovative Solutions in Grid Modernization

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01576549
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780784479414
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Sep 21 2015 3:05PM