Drones and associated technology continue to emerge as useful assets. Specifically, they can be helpful in electrical work environments where access to electrical equipment and proximity to high voltages, hot equipment and more pose safety risks to personnel.
Drones may be designed with payloads to carry equipment, such as thermal imaging cameras, for monitoring of electrical equipment in environments that would otherwise be difficult to access or pose a significant safety risk.
Drone technology is advancing and incorporating greater camera payloads that may image electrical connections remotely, indicating shorts, loose connections, problematic connections, inadequate cooling and other anomalies and alert remote workers to potential problems.
Drones are most commonly being used for electrical environments by municipal entities and public utilities to inspect electrical infrastructure. The city of Ukiah, Calif., uses drones to inspect transmission and distribution lines within the municipality and equipment in substations, which are normally an area of high voltage with high security to prohibit access. Such a use is common nowadays and builds in a whole new layer of safety.
The Austrian Power Grid must inspect its 12,000 power masts about twice per year. Drones have been used to accomplish the inspection but are being helped by artificial intelligence programs, which assist with efficiently planning and executing their flight paths, inspection points and findings.
In Memphis, Tenn., Memphis Light, Gas and Water has planned to use drones to inspect electrical utility equipment in specific locations as part of their five-year improvement plan. They are partnering with a drone company to conduct the inspections.
In Canada, where drone use is highly regulated, Transport Canada approved the use of autonomous operations to monitor and inspect electric power stations for Ontario Power Generation.
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ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net.