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Implementation of inspection systems for alternative lines to the helicopter

20 May 2015by admin
by J. Gomes-Mota, R. Oliveira, S. Antunes
Albatroz Engenharia

Abstract

This paper follows on from two papers dedicated to the design of power lines inspection systems presented at XII ERIAC (2007, Brazil) and XIV ERIAC (2011, Paraguay). In 2005 the authors present the first implementations of the line inspection systems alternative to the helicopters that remain as the reference tool for transmission lines inspection.

The design of the new systems obeyed to three fundamental demands: 1) interpretation continuity among the different inspection methods; 2) maintenance of the integration characteristics, flexibility and real-time data inherited from the heli-transported systems and 3) complementarity of inspection methods.

The ground inspection system from a ground vehicle was introduced in 2011 and improved: in its current version it features a 2MPixel video recording and a mini LiDAR with about 50m of range in cable detection, combined with a GPS and guiding sensor. This system evolved to a portable version that can be transported and used in locations with difficult access.

The systems based in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] with rotating wing developed much since 2011, specially the multicopter kind with a symmetrical arrangement of propellers. And if on the one hand this expansion and trivialisation has launched new “practical” solutions for infrastructures inspection, namely power lines towers, wind towers and thermal power plants chimneys,  on the other showed the limitations of operational efficiency resulting from regulatory limits to flight, the physical characteristics of the systems and the performance of the operators. The solution has been to limit inspections to visual modalities, taking advantage of the lightness and quality of digital imaging systems and the huge the huge improvement recorded in the meantime in bandwidth and wireless networks of coverage.

The fixed wing UAVs were also used for experimental or R&D line inspection. In this case the automatic pilot help allows to extend the reach and time of work of the systems while reducing the pilot’s fatigue that only performs supervision tasks, saving up for special phases of flight: take-off, landing and sensor calibration and resolution of exceptions.

The compatibility requirement of the inspection products can help to reduce some development systems but can also serve to enhance the complementarity between inspection modes. In this case, the intention is that products or methods of analysis of each inspection mode are complementary to others to see the line under a new point of view. Besides complementarity in the inspection modes (including vehicles, sensors and procedures variation) It can also be useful to introduce heterogeneity in the inspection frequency and modes, adapting rhythms to each of the phenomena to observe. The simplification or abolition of inspection modes can significantly contribute to increasing the economic efficiency of the inspection and sometimes even to increase its technical efficiency by reducing restrictions or incompatibilities between inspection modes.

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