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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Dec 25, 2020
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There is a desperate need for thorough line and equipment inspections.  Until now, limited human resources paired with miles of transmission lines created an insurmountable task.  In fact, utilities are only inspecting 10% - 12% of their assets each year.  Now drones are speeding up the work.  Using drones and AI technology allows a much larger area to be covered in a shorter amount of time.  As drone and AI technology advance, will wildfire prevention and outage management improve significantly?

Discussions
Steve Yusko's picture
Steve Yusko on Jan 4, 2021

That's a great question Nevelyn.  Drones can certainly help, however current line of site restrictions along with spotter requirements make this a very time consuming process.  Other technologies such as LiDAR or satellite imagery can  assist with data capture.  Each have their own plusses and minuses.

I don't think the industry has a one size fits all solution.  Based on my personal experience a combination of video data capture and machine learning models can improve grid reliability and provide predictive analytics that can help with planning.

At Theorem Geo we have been using technology (https://theoremgeo.com/home/lob-video-management/) to capture GPS enabled video through the use of both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.  And we have been able to combine this with AI to identify ROW encroachments and vegetation related issues so as to reduce the risk of power outages caused by wildfires.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 4, 2021

Based on my personal experience a combination of video data capture and machine learning models can improve grid reliability and provide predictive analytics that can help with planning.

How much more burdensome does the data collection and analysis get when you start introducing video? I imagine that really 'levels up' the amount of storage and processing power needed? 

Peter Watson's picture
Peter Watson on Jan 4, 2021

Video and LiDAR data can get very large, very quickly: likely on the scale of petabytes (thousands of terabytes).  Because of this, IT infrastructure can be an obstacle, and data processing is often a bottleneck.  But with the right know-how, cloud computing can mitigate a lot of these issues.  There are several companies working in this space with some demonstrated expertise, specifically SharperShape (https://sharpershape.com/), as well as Noteworthy (https://noteworthy.ai/), and some others.  

It's interesting to note, that if the size of the data is a challenge for transmission networks, how much greater the challenge will be for distribution networks.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 4, 2021

It's interesting to note, that if the size of the data is a challenge for transmission networks, how much greater the challenge will be for distribution networks.

Great point, Peter. And also goes to show that the vendors that make progress in dealing with these data size issues in the best way will be some of the key actors in the evolving digital utility. 

Steve Yusko's picture
Steve Yusko on Jan 5, 2021

All great points.  LIDAR is very data intensive not to mention the processing time involved along with the cost.  We have found that the storage costs and requirements for HD video pales in comparison to LiDAR and is very cost effective in a SaaS environment, especially as it relates to transmission corridors.

Nevelyn Black's picture
Thank Nevelyn for the Post!
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