Multinational power company Endesa has deployed a total of 14 drones in Spain to inspect the country's electricity lines.
The drones will be used in all the areas where Endesa has overhead power lines: Catalonia, Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.
The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will complement the company’s helicopter inspections, especially when there is difficult access to the area. This will support the work done by the technicians and, therefore, offer greater safety to these workers.
In Catalonia, a total of seven drones have been working since 2013, says Endesa, which is now starting the process of training the pilots of the seven drones that will inspect the rest of the lines in Spain. The UAVs are expected to be fully operational by June.
Endesa will also use the unmanned aircraft to check the condition of the safety corridors located beneath the overhead power lines, which act as firebreaks. The drones can also be used to make aerial surveys of these areas in an emergency.
The devices are able to take off and land on their own using electrical propulsion, and they can automatically maintain a constant position and height – thanks to their GPS and barometric control systems. As an extra safety measure, they also incorporate a system that, in case of signal loss, automatically returns the unit to its starting point.
The remotely controlled devices are equipped with high-resolution cameras – equipped with gyroscopic stabilizers – and thermal imagers.
The company also plans to participate in technical development projects, which will equip the drones with robotic arms to perform light work.