Drones to replace helicopters for powerline inspections

Two men in high-vis Endeavour Energy uniforms look at drone controller (drones)
Endeavour Energy Lead Analyst Innovation & Technology Ben Dawson and Innovation & Technology Manager Michael Ryan

Endeavour Energy says it will replace helicopters with drones for its annual powerline safety inspections.

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This shift is driven by the quest for greater efficiency, speed, and precision, with an eye on the concerning 2024/25 bushfire season.

As part of its Bushfire readiness program, Endeavour Energy traditionally inspects over 13,000km of powerlines in bushfire-prone areas every year, making necessary maintenance and tree pruning adjustments before the bushfire season begins. However, this year’s approach will be different, harnessing the capabilities of autonomously flying drones.

“Previously, helicopters were the go-to choice for these inspections, but they posed challenges due to noise levels and their potential impact on customers, particularly those with livestock,” Endeavour Energy head of digital and insights Steve Lette said.

“The introduction of drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and advanced sensors aims to mitigate these issues. Drones operate at lower noise levels, follow pre-programmed flight paths, and are designed to fly directly above powerlines, minimising the need to traverse residential areas or farmland.

“The upcoming bushfire season is especially concerning because the current summer’s rains and high temperatures have supercharged forest undergrowth.”

These innovative drones boast autonomous flying capabilities, enabling them to navigate pre-programmed routes while avoiding obstacles under the vigilant monitoring and control of a licensed drone operator.

They capture precise images of electrical assets, even in hard-to-reach locations. This transition aligns with Endeavour Energy’s commitment to evolving and improving network management to ensure customer safety, reliable electricity supply, and affordability.

Related article: Transgrid drones take flight to inspect transmission lines

This shift to drones for powerline inspections marks a significant step forward for Endeavour Energy, enhancing efficiency and accuracy but also demonstrating their dedication to keeping communities safe.

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