At a glance
Birds' nests in electricity pylons, damage to cables and crossbeams or weather-related erosion: electricity network operators in Germany have to inspect their infrastructure regularly. As a rule, this inspection is carried out by helicopter. A time-consuming and cost-intensive task, which is sometimes associated with considerable noise pollution for local residents. MITNETZ STROM tested whether a drone can perform these tasks faster, more efficiently and more automatically in a pilot project at the end of January 2020. MITNETZ STROM has almost 6,000 kilometers of high-voltage lines flown over by helicopter every year, an immense effort that is to be performed by drones in the future.
At the end of January 2020, FlyNex inspected an 18-kilometer section of a power line in the south of Leipzig by drone on behalf of the power grid operator MITNETZ STROM. The drone covered the distance at a flight altitude of between 25 and 50 meters and a speed of up to 30 kilometers per hour. The UAS flew safely over high-voltage pylons, residential and commercial areas, forest and field areas and past various localities. A total of almost 40 kilometers of power lines and about 70 power pylons could thus be captured fully automatically and digitally in about 45 minutes. The Leipzig-based software company FlyNex developed the aerial concept in a very short time and successfully coordinated it with the Saxony State Directorate. At the beginning of January 2020, the approval for the BVLOS aerial survey was already available.
Drones are invisible to other airspace participants such as gliders, helicopters or powered aircraft; they do not transmit position data. To ensure that the drone's pilot always has an up-to-date picture of air traffic in the vicinity, Droniq equipped FlyNex's drone with a HOD4track, which sent its position to the UTM (UAS Traffic Management System) of DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH every second via Deutsche Telekom's mobile network. A web-based display showed the drone pilot this position as well as the position data of relevant air traffic in the vicinity.