Project Endeavour takes-off with 5G drones

Drone operator with 5G drone for Project Endeavour
Image: Endeavour Energy

As part of its eponymous Project Endeavour, Endeavour Energy has conducted its first onsite inspection of physical electricity infrastructure using a combination of 5G, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), drone technology, and ultra-high definition (UHD) cameras.

The $648,000 project, which commenced in September 2021 and is being funded by the Australian Federal Government’s 5G Innovation Initiative, aims to enable faster identification of damage to powerlines caused by storms, floods, bushfires and other natural disasters.

Related article: Urgent transmission projects falter despite promises

The 5G drones will enable Endeavour Energy to live-stream footage of damaged assets to its control centres in real-time, so crews and materials can be efficiently deployed for repairs, reducing the time homes and businesses are without power. The technology can also be deployed to help 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.

Federal Minster for Communication, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher joined teams from Endeavour Energy, Optus, Amazon Web Services (AWS), an company, and AWS partner Unleash live to watch first-hand as drones flew over the network at St Marys with footage streamed using 5G to Endeavour Energy’s training ground in Hoxton Park.

With the demonstration a success, Endeavour Energy will now deploy the solution across infrastructure assets in Penrith and Blacktown in NSW, to help the energy provider improve network safety and avoid disruptive unplanned power outages for homes and businesses.

Fletcher said, “The 5G Innovation Initiative is designed to help businesses take advantage of innovative digital technologies, creating jobs and supporting Australia’s economic growth. Project Endeavour is a good illustration of these aims, but also of the broader potential of 5G applications to support the community. By employing drones to undertake remote inspections of critical infrastructure, the technology developed through Project Endeavour will assist in restoring power supplies as quickly as possible after interruption—including during natural disasters.”

Endeavour Energy chief asset and operating officer Scott Ryan said, “Finding a better way to deliver a safe, reliable, and sustainable electricity supply is in our DNA. We’re thrilled to work with Optus, AWS, and Unleash live, with the support of the Australian Government to expedite the use of 5G drone technology to make faster decisions and expedite critical maintenance to continue to keep the lights on for our customers. We are committed to being at the forefront of the current energy transformation by embracing digital innovation.”

Related article: Powerlink helicopters patrol Southern Queensland skies

Onsite inspections are currently conducted by Endeavour Energy utilising a large fleet of vehicles, helicopters, and a team of technicians to physically identify and carry out remediation. It’s expected that the use of drones should save Endeavour Energy time inspecting their network footprint, which is made up of more than 60,000km of powerlines, 400,000 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. It should also help to reduce the number of vehicles and helicopters needed to physically identify and carry out remediation.

Previous articleUrgent transmission projects falter despite promises
Next articleThe path towards a renewable future