Safer, Faster, and Better Utility Pole Inspections with Drones

Power line assessments are still frequently conducted on foot for several utilities. With over a million local distribution systems, this form of examination necessitates a lengthy process. Even with a workforce of thousands of individuals functioning continuously, using the human eye to acquire sensory information is time-consuming and subject to human error. 

The work is hazardous since auditors must use equipment like cable equipment (climbing and rappelling), ladders, and cranes to obtain a detailed look at everything that is required. Examiners are vulnerable to the environment while they work on scaffolds or cranes, which can increase the likelihood of an accident. 

The 180 million electric utility poles that cover the United States must be inspected and maintained more frequently as they get older and deteriorate. Because of this, several businesses are using drone management software to accomplish their tasks more quickly, economically, and effectively.  

Here are some ways that drones can improve and simplify the inspection of transmission poles, which are the ones that transmit low-voltage energy from substations to homes and other structures. 


Benefits of Using Drones for Power Line Inspection 


Increased Safety 

In conventional power line assessments, examiners usually climb upon cranes and use cord connections to scale poles. With drones, line examiners can stay on the ground while the drone operator scans the line, which reduces any safety risks. 

Reduced Work Time and Labor Costs 

According to conventional procedures, a group of skilled linemen must thoroughly check every connection in a given region to look for deterioration or other potential complications. By automating assessments with low operating costs, drone controlling and monitoring decreases man-hours and labor expenditures, saving between 30 and 50 percent of both time and funds.  

Access Hard-to-Reach Areas  

Drones can be used to observe vegetation development along electricity lines in difficult-to-reach places. These are adroit at landing, taking off in confined spaces, and maneuvering among impenetrable groves of trees. 

More Accurate Data with Reduced Complexity  

Inspectors are able to obtain better, more accurate figures than they would be through conventional techniques because UAVs make it simple to hover beside electrical cables while capturing high-quality images and videos. 


What Kind of Maps Can You Expect From a Power Line Inspection Drone?  


3D Model 

Commercial drones use oblique imagery captured while flying above overhead power lines to create 3D renderings using third-party software. It can be used to figure out how high the transmission line is above the land, how far away the nearest obstruction is, and how far one structure is from the other. 

3D Point Cloud 

A laser drone gathers a group of points known as a “Point Cloud” after obtaining the geographic information of each recorded point on an object’s surface. The point cloud is created by merging the concepts of laser measurement and computer vision, comprising three-dimensional coordinates (XYZ), laser reflection intensity, and color information. It can be applied to constructing and managing powerline 3D visuals as well as planning and creating routes. 

InfraRed Imaging  

In order to investigate the aberrant voltage and electrical resistance, an infrared drone can be employed to quantify the heat generated from overhead power lines. The maintenance and service staff can utilize it to find any potential issues. 


In Conclusion 

Drones are changing how inspections and assessments are conducted within various industries. This includes utility pole inspections. Deploying drones to examine electric poles can improve inspection accuracy and reduce the dangers and workplace risks.  

To read more about Skygrid’s efforts to dive deeper into the benefits of drones in utility pole inspections, visit us here.