5G innovation to enhance powerline safety

Endeavour worker operates drone to inspect powerlines (5G)
Image: Endeavour Energy

Endeavour Energy will collaborate with Optus, AWS and Unleash live to deploy a 5G innovation solution that enhances grid reliability and worker safety.

Optus announced a new collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, and AWS Partner Unleash to create a 5G solution for Australian electricity provider Endeavour Energy to improve the speed, efficiency, and safety of real-time fault inspections of its electricity grid.

Endeavour Energy’s electricity distribution network spans 47,000km of power lines, 500,000 power poles, and 32,000 substations across Sydney’s Greater West, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra and the South Coast of New South Wales. On-site inspections are currently conducted by Endeavour Energy’s team of engineers, utilising a large fleet of vehicles, helicopters, and a team of technicians to physically identify and carry out remediation. 

Through the project, Optus, AWS, and Unleash live will develop a solution that leverages a combination of 5G, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), drone technology, and ultra-high definition (UHD) cameras to monitor in real-time the physical state of infrastructure assets on the electricity grid. The solution is designed to keep the electrical supply safe and reliable by identifying where preventative maintenance is needed to improve network safety and avoid costly and unplanned power outages.

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The project, which is valued at $648,000, will commence this month and is being funded by the Australian Federal Government’s latest 5G innovation initiative. The initial trial period will monitor Endeavour Energy’s infrastructure assets across Penrith and Blacktown in New South Wales.

“This is a great example of AWS, Unleash-live and Optus coming together with Endeavour Energy to create an ecosystem of innovation that will have a lasting impact across Australia’s critical infrastructure,” Optus Enterprise managing director Chris Mitchell said.

“We want to thank the Australian Federal Government for the critical role they have played in expediting the use of 5G innovation in Australia and look forward to working with our partners on delivering an innovative solution for Endeavour Energy that will make keeping the lights on a safer and more efficient job.”

“Finding a better way to deliver a safe, reliable and sustainable electricity supply is in our DNA. By bringing together new technology with essential infrastructure services we are accelerating the transition to a modern grid and keeping downward pressure on our portion of customers’ electricity bills,” Endeavour Energy chief customer and strategy officer Leanne Pickering says.

Unleash live will leverage AI to analyse video content recorded with UHD cameras mounted on utility vehicles and drones leveraging Optus’ 5G network, the fastest 5G network in Australia[1]. The solution is set to accelerate network remediation and improve worker safety by remotely alerting

Endeavour Energy of faults or damaged equipment on the electricity network that could be difficult for humans to manually identify. Examples of the faults that will be identified include rust damage, missing components, erosion of insulation, and cracks in the metal structure.

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Visual insights generated from Unleash live’s platform will notify Endeavour Energy if remediation services need to be administered or equipment needs to be replaced without requiring engineers to undertake on-site inspections.

The Unleash live enterprise platform is being used today for many applications within the energy industry for improved energy production through faster and more cost effective fault detection at Wind and Solar farms as well as the connected grid,” Unleash live CEO and co-founder Hanno Blankenstein says.

“Powerline inspection benefits from the application of AI, improving safety and reducing the cost of maintaining such high value distributed assets.”

Unleash live’s solution will leverage Amazon Kinesis to collect and process large streams of visual data in real-time. The solution also uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud to provide secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud, and Amazon Simple Storage Service to store and retrieve the data.

[1] Ookla 5G Speedtest Award Report for Australia, Q1-Q2 2021