The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has completed tests determining that unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, can be used effectively to assess storm damage on utility distribution systems.
Conducted at the New Mexico State University Flight Test Center, the tests involved navigating several aircraft technologies and using high resolution video cameras to transmit images of power lines from a height of 5,000 to 7,000 feet. The tests determined that such images can be used by electric utilities to assess damage and pinpoint its location following a storm. (...)
In the wake of a storm, damage assessment is frequently a choke point in power restoration due largely to obstacles, such as downed trees blocking roads or icy conditions that make it extremely difficult for utility crews to get to and report on distribution line damage.
“Our research clearly shows that drones may provide utilities a tool that could reduce outage restoration time,” said Matthew Olearczyk, senior program manager for distribution research at EPRI. “Using live streaming video information, utility system operators would be able to dramatically improve damage assessment.”
June 6th, 2012