Drones guided by electromagnetic fields from power lines are developed

Isbel Lázaro.

drones guiados por campos electromagnéticos

With the purpose of improving the safety and efficiency of electrical transmission infrastructure inspections using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, new detection technologies and software algorithms have been created. These allow UAS to use the electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by power transmission lines as a reference for their mobilization.

Initiated in 2020 with partial financial support from the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (Nyserda), the project has been developed in collaboration between Manifold Robotics and the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

Drones are emerging as an essential tool for carrying out infrastructure inspections. However, they face challenges when flying around transmission lines, as remote pilots find it difficult to determine the distance between the UAS and the line conductors and flying along these lines presents additional challenges, including regulatory restrictions for flights beyond line of sight (Bvlos).

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Drones guided by electromagnetic fields

To overcome these obstacles, Manifold Robotics and NYPA have collaborated to develop an electromagnetic field detection system for UAS. This system allows drones to detect electromagnetic fields emitted by transmission lines, identify the presence of the lines and estimate their distance , which could lead to automated collision prevention or precise tracking of lines.

The creation of this product involved the conception and production of electric and magnetic field sensors with extensive sensitivity, while researchers addressed constraints related to the size and weight of aircraft. As a result, software algorithms were designed to analyze the data captured from electromagnetic fields during flight and send instructions to the drone with the purpose of preventing collisions with the line or autonomously tracking along it.

It is important to note that more than 100 test flights were conducted using this technology on NYPA transmission line infrastructure. As a final test, the technology was implemented to perform a flight of approximately 1 mile along a 345 kV line.

The electromagnetic field detection capability directed the drone to maintain a 20-foot separation from the line while flying parallel to it. In this way, the drone autonomously followed a change in the direction of the transmission line , simultaneously adjusting its altitude to adapt to the variation in the driver’s height due to the line drop and terrain irregularities.

This technology does not use GPS waypoints to perform flights along transmission lines; instead, it directly estimates the distance between the drone and the lines . This approach is anticipated to provide a significant advantage for beyond line-of-sight flights along transmission lines for inspection purposes, by allowing drones to fly safely in close proximity to the lines, minimizing risk. of encounters with other aircraft.

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Source: smartgridsinfo.es

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