Overhead transmission lines are among the utility industry’s most widely distributed assets, traversing tens of thousands of miles, often in remote locations. Reliability requirements, component aging, clearance and right-of-way inspection compliance drive the need for thorough, timely inspections along the entire length of these lines. Such comprehensive assessments by maintenance personnel, working on the ground or in aircraft, currently entail significant expense.

To expand inspection capabilities and increase cost-effectiveness, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is developing a transmission line inspection robot that can be permanently installed on these lines, and traverse 80 miles of line at least twice a year, collecting high-fidelity information that utilities can act on in real time. As the robot crawls along the transmission line, it uses various inspection technologies to identify high-risk vegetation and right-of-way encroachment, and to assess component conditions.

After an initial concept design, the EPRI research team refined the design and developed a prototype robot. Nicknamed “Ti,” EPRI has put the prototype through a series of tests at its laboratory in Lenox, Massachusetts and is compiling data that will lead to further refinement of the design....(read more...)

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