BGE is testing autonomous drone inspection of power lines - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Feb. 19, 2018 12:25 pm

BGE is testing autonomous drone inspection of power lines

The power company is working with an Exelon spinoff developing the underlying technology. An initial flight had positive results.

Power lines.

(Photo by Flickr user Owen Viriyincy, used under a Creative Commons license)

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company recently partnered to test an autonomous drone inspection system in Maryland.

The power company better known as BGE is working on the test with AeroLabs, a Pennsylvania-based firm which makes the system and is also owned by parent company Exelon.

According to a blog post from AeroLabs, the February test involved flying a DJI Matrice 210 to inspect power lines in an area of northern Maryland. The test area presented various configurations of the power equipment, as well as trees that would present potential obstacles.

“Even with temperatures in the 20s and strong 15+ mph winds, the Matrice held its own and flew quite well on its programmed flight path,” the posting states.

The overhead views also helped to get a better picture of the 10-12 pole circuit.

“We successfully identified some defects on tops of cross arms that were not visible from the ground, which proves the drones deliver more thorough inspections,” the post states.

While there are plenty of wide uses for drones in photography and racing, the test shows the increasing attention being given to industry applications, as well. AeroLabs’ software is designed to enable autonomous flight of the inspection drones, as well as data analysis.

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If the use is to scale, AeroLabs wrote that autonomous flight is “simply a must.”

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