Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems says it is in discussions with a Europe-based high-voltage power line operator about potential use of its Asio ring-wing mini unmanned air vehicle to conduct pylon inspections.
Selex's head of UAV marketing David Lazarus say the concept would be to use Asio as a field-deployed system that travels with maintenance inspection teams that normally have to climb individual pylons to assess their condition. That practice poses health and safety issues, whereas a vertical take off and landing UAV could perform similar close-up inspections without placing maintenance crews at risk.
The UAV would use an ultraviolet camera to identify pylon and insulator corrosion, arcing and hot spots. Flight inside the pylons is also being considered, given the small size of the Asio system.
Selex has carried out initial electromagnetic interference studies on Asio to ensure it would not be affected by operations in proximity to transmission lines.
Lazarus says the lines in question carry 52,000 volts but the assessment is that the all-electric UAV should be unaffected and will be able to operate normally.
The application would be totally self contained, with data from the UAV being processed by a portable ground station that would travel with the maintenance teams.
"This is the only application where the customer is interested in a purely stand alone system. There is no need for that information to go anywhere else other than to the team that is doing the task," says Selex.