Like something out of a 90’s science fiction movie, drones have become a very real and modern thing in today’s time. You can see them in the sky as they capture photos or a nice view as its operator watches somewhere on ground level. They are used in films to create stunning and aesthetic scenes, but they also have other significant uses that help you stay safe.
When it comes to inspecting power lines on your local roads or in your community, it is quite familiar to see a few big trucks on the side of the road with a guy in the boom lift looking for signs of damage and wear. Even though this may seem common, it is actually a bit of a hassle.
Utility workers even have to walk up and down long roads checking which can be quite time consuming. In some areas with rough terrain driving and walking to inspect power lines are out of the question. Some companies opt for the use of helicopters, which are indeed noisy, can be unstable and are very expensive. A contract for power line inspection via helicopter can run more than $4,000 per day.
To save time, money and perhaps even live drones have become UAV inspection equipment. They are portable, lightweight, easy to use and can get close up and personal with a low risk of safety concern. One company by the name of Duke Energy, is using drones for infrared equipment inspections as well as inspect storm damage and tall structures. Another company uses drones with methane sensors to check pipelines for gas leaks.
The use of drones in utility and power companies has become quite specific in terms of the type of drones to use. Fixed wing drones are considered the ideal UAV inspection equipment. The quad copters, also known as quad-rotor drones were once doing a service because of their ability to hover steadily and fly precisely, but the limitation of flight endurance was not satisfactory, typically lasting between 25 to 30 minutes.
A fixed wing drone resembles a small airplane and can last up to four times longer in terms of flight time. They are also capable of carrying heavier equipment including some advanced sensor technology found in helicopters. They can even deploy better in areas that aren’t perceived as suitable.
Fixed wing drones are equipped with different technologies based on what a company uses it for. Once can be equipped with sensor and advanced imaging technology to survey construction areas and help with large scale construction projects.
It doesn’t stop there, these drones are being used in operations on agriculture, mining, emergency surveillance oil and gas and are predominantly being used to gather information and data that only helicopters and satellites were able to provide.
Whether a quad-rotor drone or a fixed wing drone, the technology has presented many benefits and advantages to power and utility companies in terms of safety and cost. With drones being unmanned, they eliminate the need to have a person flying at a highly dangerous altitude to inspect lines of transmission.
Drone are less intrusive and create a seemingly invisible method while providing better service to communities and keeping the environment safe.