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Fugro Roames recruits drones to help scan power lines

Byron Connolly | May 4, 2016
Drones join a fleet of four Cessna aircraft inspecting power poles spread over 1 million square kilometres.

Since 2012, the four Cessna aircraft have collected 2 petabytes of images of 100 million trees which are watched every year to determine if there are differences in their structure.

While sitting at their desk, an Ergon staff member can determine if a power line is owned by a customer or is the company’s responsibility, said Carpenter.

An Ergon engineer could waste 6 hours driving out and back from a customer site only to learn that the power line is over a property boundary and is the customer’s responsibility. They can now fire up Google Earth, view property boundary overlays using 3D models and determine if they need to travel to the customer’s property.

Heatmaps provide Ergon with a view of its risk across the areas it covers in QLD so it can make better strategy decisions.

For example, engineers could look at a particular area in Mt Isa, determine that no work needs to be done for another 12 months, saving the company money. Power lines near Townsville need more attention because that area has received a lot of rain and there’s more vegetation surrounding the lines, he said.

“This is one of the reasons that they [Ergon] have been able to get that $40 million saving but without compromising safety,” said Carpenter.


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