Flight Evolved says according to an estimate in 2010, there are approximately 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the United States. That is a lot of transmission structures!
However, the same estimate claims that there are approximately 5.5 million miles of local distribution lines. That is a staggering amount. Not only are there millions of miles, but in many cases these lines were constructed in the 60’s and 70’s and are decades old. These wood poles, though stout, are reaching the end of their lifecycle.
With this many miles of line, it should come as no surprise that the current condition, location, and health of many of these lines is simply not known. We see fires generated from falling conductors in California, wind events taking out power in rural areas, and outdated GIS and information data systems with inaccurate and incomplete data.
Further, in many joint use cases (when a telephone or internet company “shares space” with a utility pole) telecom companies have antiquated methods of gathering survey data and producing pole loading calcs. Typically, a crew is sent out with a hot stick to gather heights of conductors and clearances. Though passable, the supporting data is not near as robust as it could be for utilities to ensure their poles are not overloaded.
All of this to say, data is king when it comes to determining asset health, and UAVs provide a tantalizing new method of data capture. UAV LiDAR can be classified and delivered in a .BAK that will accomodate for any engineers workflow. Planimetrics, Orthophotos, and Oblique images can also be integrated to give an accurate picture of field conditions.
With the above context in mind, at Flight Evolved, we have worked with multiple Utilities to develop a methodology for applying UAV LiDAR to map out distribution lines for analysis in PLS CADD. In many cases, this is a completely new workflow for engineers to prepare their pole loading calcs, line sags, etc. for distribution lines in PLS CADD (this is a common workflow for transmission.) Many are used to ground survey, hot stick, or other sparse data sources being inputted into OCalc, SPIDA, or other software platforms.
For the entire white paper click here.
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