UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or better known as, drones, are a rapidly developing technology whose range of applications for different industries run the gamut. Even though the concept of drones or unmanned aircraft is not new, the applications and developments were only centered on military purposes. Today, however, this technology is being used in broader commercial applications, such as asset tracking, surveillance and even UAV in utility inspection as well.
When it comes to the utility sector, these flying machines are equipped with high-end technologies including thermal imaging, high-resolution video and digital imagery for accurate aerial data processing.
UAVs Overcome Physical Limitations
Utility assets can be located anywhere, making the ability to comprehensively inspect them limited due to the surrounding geography, land ownership, and environment considerations. This is one of the primary reasons why utility network owners have become the early adopters of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Besides that, UAVs are a lot more flexible when it comes to deployment as compared to aerial surveillance by aircraft or helicopter. UAVs can even reach such facilities where manned aircraft would be of no use like water and bridge asset monitoring and Utility inspections.
Furthermore, UAVs are cost-effective, which makes it easier for most utility owners to implement them for their day-to-day operations.
Use of UAV for Electrical System Inspections
Equipped with thermal imaging, UAVs are able to easily and quickly identify areas of concern along antennas and power grids. Thermal imaging makes it easier for inspectors to find out loose electrical connections and also detect heat spots in electrical equipment like power lines, transformers, switches and such other equipment. By implementing UAV, utility owners are able to complete the task within a short period of time and it also reduces the risk of employees working near the potentially dangerous electrical equipment.
Since UAVs provide faster surveys of an area and instantly completes UAV data processing, it makes it convenient for utility owners to dispatch repair teams and solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Use of UAVs for Pipeline Inspection
UAVs are particularly helpful for monitoring and detecting oil spills thanks to top-notch quality UAV image processing services. UAV with infrared cameras are able to fly over large water bodies and locate areas in inhospitable climates to survey gas leaks and oil spills. By using UAVs and reducing the number of manned aircraft, utility owners can significantly bring down the expenses while making it possible to survey areas that are prone to explosions and fires.
- Benefits of UAV Implementation in Utility Inspection
- Faster collection and analysis of data
- Increased safety of workers
- Enhanced rate of response
- Reduced labor costs
- Decreased costs of equipment
UAV Technology – Future Application
UAV technology is developing at an exponential rate with further advancements in the battery life, payload and flight range of these devices. It is predicted that these devices will be adopted widely across the utility industry for an innumerable number of operations, such as structural surveying, routine asset inspection, inspection of assets on private property and so on.
The future of UAVs seems bright, but there are still certain regulatory barriers that will require the unified voice of the utility sector for the complete adoption of the devices.