SAM Inspects 42 Miles of Electric Transmission Lines Using UAS

Texas Gulf Coast

SAM performed an inspection of all davit arm welds during an inspection of 42 miles of electric transmission lines using UAS. Five miles of the electric transmission lines were inspected over water and four miles were adjacent to an airport which required special approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Each electric transmission tower with a davit arm weld was photographed for an inspector to determine its structural integrity. During this inspection, SAM utilized a UAS equipped with a 42-megapixel DSLR camera to acquire photography at distances up to three-quarters of a mile offshore, over a bay. The gimbal equipped UAS allowed for acquisition of photography from above and below the structure arms so the entire weld could be photographed from the air. The acquisition process was especially efficient given SAM’s ability to take off and land from a boat.

SAM also developed a uniquely synergized field/office workflow system which allowed for quick and efficient turnaround of the data into deliverables as sequences of the photography were recorded in the field and processed in the office. This proprietary system provided a step-by-step field workflow allowing the office personnel to quickly confirm photographic coverage of all welds and required structures. Every weld was then identified and automatically named according to the arm and quadrant it was photographed from.

Constant communication between field and office personnel was essential to the success of this project and allowed for optimized efficiency while collecting over 12,000 raw images in the field. When all four lines were completed, a total of 4,556 images were finalized and delivered in just over a month since the start of acquisition.

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