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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Live Transmission Line monitoring Robot

Transmission line monitoring is to have a complete and continuous real-time picture of conductor clearances, temperature, current and vibrations. Today robotic devices are able to inspect these parameters of live High and Extra High Voltage transmission lines in order to improve the reliability and safety. These remote controlled robots are equipped with cameras and several other sensors so that the grid operator can have access to strategic data on which maintenance and certain investment decisions are based. 

With the help of these robots, the utilities can inspect the irregularities in a transmission line and the smart navigation system of the device provides the ability to pinpoint the exact location which needs attention and to carry out maintenance tasks such as strengthening of broken strands etc. These robots are able to manoeuvre the splices, hardware components and other similar obstacles.

Several prototype line inspection robots were developed over the years around the globe. LineScout, is one such robotic device developed by Hydro-Quebec Research Institute of North America, is the widely used robot designed and developed for live transmission lines. These robots are in operation in various countries since 2006. The institute has recently developed a prototype robot for the 735 kV system that performs visual inspection and can operate certain equipments such as an isolator.   

Indian transmission grid is one of the largest in the world and hence has to be more reliable and efficient. The need for an intelligent transmission network has been stressed by the Chairman cum Managing Director (CMD) and other senior officials of the Power Grid Corporation of India. It is good news that world renowned Hydro-Quebec is actively seeking partnership with major Indian companies for the commercial production of LineScout technology. 

Another transmission line monitoring robot is the Lindsey TLM conductor robot. These robots are self-communicating and can be easily installed for live transmission line installation and monitoring for voltage levels up to 765 kV. These monitors or robots, as stated earlier, consists of different sensors and are self-powered from the line current itself. The on-board LiDAR sensor provides the accurate line to ground clearance. Similarly other sensors are there to track the conductor temperature and thus to prevent conductor annealing. Three-axis accelerometer detects the conductor galloping and vibrations. 

These robots come with a secure communication gateway for the safe transmission of data.