Using drones to inspect and respond to emergencies on power grids

Instead of having people or helicopters inspect the power grid, KVS Technologies uses automated drones. These drones are mobilized from drone hangars which are placed on the power grid, and they fly out over the grid taking images of the masts. These images are available to the customer in real-time, so that they can find errors on their grids faster and more safely and efficiently than before.

However, areas outside of range for terrestrial communication systems provide challenges. By combining the cost effectiveness and high bandwidth of terrestrial cellular networks, with the full coverage of satellite communication by automated adjustment of the communication link based on the available bandwidth and communication technology, the service aimed to provide the customer with inspection data from their entire asset in real time.

Power grid owners in Norway are obliged by law to carry out annual inspections of their power grid. The purpose of these inspections is to uncover issues such as rotting masts, missing or damaged isolators, or trees that are in danger of falling over. All of these issues must be dealt with before they lead to a power outage, a situation which has inconvenient and negative consequences for thousands of everyday consumers. Apart from annual inspections, power grid operators also need to carry out emergency operations in the event of power outages, where they need to localise errors on their grid and carry out repair works. 

At the current stage none of the space assets explored during the kick-start activity has been implemented as part of KVS Technologies’ provided service offerings.

For future improvement of the service, KVS Technologies is planning to use low bandwidth and low cost satellite communication running on the Iridium Network to transfer telemetry data from the drones, and commands to the drone, for short periods in areas outside of terrestrial communication network coverage. This solution would, however, require significant work with the aviation authorities to establish the required operational procedures and approvals due to lack of video stream to the operator.

ESA
TIA
Aviation
Energy
Infrastructure
Europe
BASS
Kick-start Activity
Completed
business@esa.int