Austin Energy inspects power lines using drones and imaging tech from India

On October 6, Austin Energy tested a novel solution for inspecting power transmission lines from the air using drones and breakthrough imaging software from India. The software was provided by Arcturus Business Solutions, a participant in IC²’s India Innovation Growth Program (IIGP), which helps new technologies from India find applications around the world.

Arcturus’ pattern recognition algorithms compare images of new transmission equipment with images taken by drone to detect damaged tower components, hot spots and coronas, and even to measure line sag. Using the software also requires skilled drone pilots who are able to successfully navigate electromagnetic fields from transmission lines that can cause the drones to lose their GPS orientation.

If the test is successful, utilities have the potential to lower costs and improve the safety, speed and precision of inspections. Current inspection techniques require physical access by lineworkers or costly flyovers by helicopter.

Program Manager Jim Vance of IC²’s Global Commercialization Group has served as a mentor to Arcturus in developing its US business and helped arrange the test with Austin Energy. Arcturus and CEO Swati Tiwari competed through the India Innovation Growth Program for the opportunity to work with IC².

The IIGP program is funded by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF). Its cumulative impact for the Indian economy through 2015 was $814 million according to an independent report produced by Ernst & Young. The IC² Institute has partnered with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to deliver this and previous programs.


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