Danger Danger: High Voltage – Drones and transmission towers

The UK and many other countries in the world often have huge amounts of transmissions towers criss-crossing the landscape, creating an effective network that allows its residents access to electricity and tele-communications. Given these two elements are critical to our modern-day way of life, it makes sense that the structures that facilitate nationwide access to them are maintained to the highest standard.

And that’s where drones can come in.

Now don’t get me wrong, drones weren’t always the answer to this kind of inspection and maintenance work. Due to interference that many power lines put when in close proximity, there was every chance that it could cause a problem with an unmanned aircraft’s steering and orientation, creating a dangerous situation rather than becoming a benefit.




Now however, thanks to newer and far more adaptive technology, this is no longer the case. With the improved cameras and sensors now available, data is comprehensive, highly detailed and easy to obtain. Therefore, it nullifies any need to expect workers to climb up these towers and expose themselves to the dangers involved with this to conduct anything short of actual repair work.

Last week in North Carolina a man climbed such a tower and as a result – in order to preserve his life – all power in the area was shut down for over four hours. The implications of this, while rare, show the serious consequences that can occur in these environments. Further details on the story in question can be found here.

Comparatively, while we know that such dangerous work atop these towers would only be conducted by professionals, it would make sense to still reduce their time up there for safer and ever faster methods.

Electric Tower Survey

Even as recently as a few years ago, due to the interference that would place limitations on how close you would get, there were few drones that could achieve this, mostly in part due to a limited range of sensors that could be safely attached. Now, even something as small as the Mavic 3 has a zoom capability that would make any inspection work on these towers a faster, safer and more affordable option.

Or if there was a need for the data to be elevated to the realm of GNSS positioning or 3D modelling, using the DJI Matrice 300 with a P1 or H20 sensor will allow for both high-definition and a high optical zoom to capture critical data that can help experts make decisions without a dedicated workforce clambering to the top, investing both their safety and appropriate measures in the process.

Electric Pylons

As demonstrated by the pictures taken by RUAS in this article on some of our work, tower inspection can be raised to new heights in a very near future.

To see more about our work, you can see our Inspections page here.

Liarne Fox

February 01

An airborne drone during a GVC transition training course.

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