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Importance of drones in power line inspection

The structures used in the power line to transmit electric energy are distributed across large distances. It consists of uninsulated electric cables that are supported on towers and electric poles. The whole setup consists of insulators, conductors, wires, and structural towers. Periodical maintenance is required to secure the proper functioning of power lines. The power line must be regularly inspected to ensure proper transmission of electricity with no losses, to increase its longevity. The power line system aims to efficiently transmit electricity, support conductors, and be resilient to extreme weather conditions.

Why do traditional inspection methods prove to be inefficient?

The traditional inspection methods include a team that follows a mandatory inspection manual. The inspection would involve climbing towers, inspecting damages visually, coordinating with the ground team to report data. A team would cover tens of miles every day guided by a team leader who would prioritize areas to be inspected based on knowledge and expertise. While the traditional methods did gather inspection data there are many risk factors associated with it. Manual inspection of transmission lines is a hazardous job. Difficulties associated with traditional methods are: 

  • Difficult to cover large distances over small time
  • Employing a team of inspectors is costlier
  • Ensuring the safety of an individual
  • Possibilities of falling 
  • Possibility of being electrocuted 

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How do drones ensure quick and easy inspection of power lines?

How do drones ensure quick and easy inspection of power lines?

Due to many intensive difficulties related to traditional inspection, modern inspection techniques are implemented. The power line companies utilize advanced drones equipped with high-definition cameras and thermal sensors to inspect power lines distributed over large distances. By using drones in inspection methods we can eliminate the risk factor of life associated while inspecting the tower. It is easier to gather data in a short period. Drones also help cover larger distances over time as compared to distances covered by a team of inspectors. The data acquired by drones include geotagged images that show the geographic location of drones in terms of latitude and longitude. This data is of utmost importance while doing the repairs on damaged parts. 

What are the main elements of power line inspection?


Tower component inspections

Many times there are structural damages over the towers due to heavy winds, or lightning strikes, and loose bolts that weaken the structure of towers.



It includes inspecting overheating of wires, breakages between towers, estimating sagging of wires, and conductivity to transmit the electric energy. 


Insulator and conductor inspection

A damaged insulator or conductor proves to be disastrous for an electrical circuit, power transmission lines, and human life. 



The other damages include overheating, base defects, metal rust, missing elements, crack, etc. 

How does the power line industry is benefitting by employing drones?

There is a rise in the demand for drone technology for visual inspection. It is an effective method of inspecting high towers and areas that are inaccessible to a human being. Depending on the requirements high definition thermal cameras are employed to identify damages that occurred on the towers. The thermal images also help identify the high heat dissipation zones. An inspector lead can virtually get access to the power grid, review damaged spots, prioritize the repair works and execute an actionable plan. 

    • Cover large distances: A large number of drones can be inspected within a day as compared to conventional inspection methods. By employing drones every possible view of the power line can be accessible. 
    • Access data in a short time: The data acquired by drones can be accessed immediately after the completion of flight operations. The team lead can assess the damage immediately. 
    • Cost-effective method: Employing a team or a helicopter to inspect the power line is an expensive method. There are fewer people required in drone operations and inspection management. 
    • Thermal and geotagged images: Drones can be equipped with thermal or visual cameras that provide images with the exact geographical coordinates of a tower. 
    • Easily locate the damages: With easier access to the position of damage on a particular pole, the damage can be immediately assessed.  

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