Transpower and Broadspectrum drone testing set to improve safety and detect faults

Transpower and Broadspectrum are currently trialling the use of drones and AI technology to reduce power disruption and improve the efficiency of tower and transmission line inspections throughout Auckland.

Broadspectrumis part of a brand-new trial into the use of drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to reduce disruption to tens of thousands of residents across the Auckland region.

Together with client Transpower, Broadspectrum is currently testing drones fit with high resolution cameras to inspect towers and transmission lines throughout Auckland.

Historically, Transpower has inspected the condition of the lines across the network using helicopters, which can create significant disturbance from noise and propeller wash.

The new remote aerial vehicles (drones) are safer and significantly reduce the impact on the local environment. Fit with computer-operated cameras, the drones can fly between towers and inspect up to three separate conductors (lines) in a single pass, while the images are monitored safely from the ground.

This new technology is proving beneficial for planners and engineers, enabling more efficient and thorough inspections of essential National Grid infrastructure.

“Already we are seeing the benefit of using drones to assess the state of our lines,” said Mark Ryall, GM Grid Service Delivery at Transpower. “The solution currently being trialled in Auckland was recently able to identify lightning damage to a conductor that would have been difficult to spot from a helicopter—and impossible to spot from the ground.”

The images obtained by the drones are also being used to develop a cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI) solution, and are evaluated for any defects and damage on lines or towers.

Matt De Bono, Innovations Engineer at Broadspectrum, said: ‘We believe technology will not only help us to maintain and operate the grid in a more efficient way, but also enable New Zealand’s transition to a decarbonised economy.”