In a world dependent on electricity for various purposes, regular inspection and maintenance of electrical transmission lines are crucial to ensure uninterrupted power supply. However, the remote locations of power plants where electricity is generated present challenges for inspection due to severe magnetic field interference and the small sizes and long spans of the transmission lines.
To address these challenges, a team of researchers led by Associate Professor Satoshi Suzuki from the Graduate School of Engineering at Chiba University in Japan has developed a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for inspecting transmission lines. Unlike existing methods that utilize expensive components, this innovative approach utilizes a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver, RGB camera, and a millimeter (mm) wave radar.
Dr. Suzuki explains that their proposed system allows small drones to inspect transmission lines up close, a first in the industry. The development of this unmanned platform has the potential to automate power facility inspections, contributing to a more sustainable power supply.
The team’s findings were published in the journal Remote Sensing and included contributions from Qi Wang, Professor Akio Namiki, and Ziran Li from Chiba University, as well as Professor Wei Wang from Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology in China.
The proposed system incorporates sensors to characterize transmission lines and utilizes a knowledge-based line identification system. This system utilizes a technique called Hough transform to identify and measure the distance of transmission lines from the UAV, enabling it to fly in close proximity.
To counter magnetic field interference affecting the UAV’s compass, a heading correction module calculates the desired direction based on the identified transmission line’s start and end points, ensuring accurate flight paths.
Furthermore, a waypoint correction system addresses inaccuracies caused by the low accuracy of the GNSS receiver. An auxiliary controller also helps the UAV withstand unknown disturbances, such as strong winds, which may deviate the UAV from its planned path.
The team conducted experiments using their designed UAV to inspect a 10 kV energized transmission line. The results demonstrated that the proposed method effectively addressed magnetic interference problems, path mismatches, and wind interference. However, the team also acknowledged that further improvements, such as advanced control algorithms, could enhance the UAV’s wind resistance capabilities.
By overcoming the challenges of remote inspections, this innovative method contributes to the sustainable development goal of ensuring access to clean and affordable energy. Not only does it ensure an uninterrupted electricity supply, but it also holds the potential for automated maintenance work in the future.
In conclusion, the development of this novel low-cost UAV platform represents a significant advancement in the automated inspection of transmission lines. It allows for regular monitoring and reduces manual effort, ensuring the reliability and efficiency of electrical transmission systems.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it