Western Power has commenced a new inspection trial, using drones to assist with visual inspections of faults around the Northam and Geraldton areas.
The drones will increase response times to outages and detect faults, and are capable of withstanding electromagnetic interference, allowing safe navigation near powerlines.
Drone pilots will be able to switch between two different cameras, a high powered zoom lens and thermal heat sensing, to see potential faults that would not be visible to the naked eye.
As part of the three-month trial, four Western Power fault crew members completed Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) training to become Remote Pilots and undertook specific training on inspecting powerlines.
Using drones can help Western Power crews inspect assets in difficult-to-reach locations and address vehicle access issues in agricultural and environmentally sensitive locations.
Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said the Western Australia Government is committed to improving the energy supply for regional homes and businesses, and that’s why it supports the use of drone technology.
“It is expected the trial will help reduce response times, costs and risk relating to visual inspections of faults in regional areas,” Mr Johston said.
“It is exciting to see the potential benefits that drone technology can deliver to the community, as severe weather in the region can affect power supply, and long feeder lines require intensive man hours to inspect.”