During the 12th Five Year Plan period, China’s power grid has developed rapidly, and the total length of transmission lines has exceeded 1.18 million km, ranking first in the world. During the 13th Five Year Plan period, China’s power grid will reach 1.59 million km. But the transmission line is scattered, wide area, complex terrain, bad natural environment, high cost, long time, great difficulty and high risk of human patrol, which has been difficult to meet the demand. The use of UAV can complete the power inspection task “more fast, better and less”, so it is gradually popularized in China.
AVIC AVIC, founded in 2009, has been developing a solution for power line inspection based on UAV. Its efficiency can reach more than 20 times of the traditional manual line inspection, and its accuracy is more than 10 times. At present, it has been operating in more than 20 provinces and cities in China. According to the official, the company has the longest cooperation with the power grid, the longest line patrol mileage and the widest market coverage.
Different from the UAV used in other industries, the UAV for line inspection has higher requirements for wind protection, fire prevention, dust prevention, electromagnetic protection and static electricity protection. After investigation, the team found that it is difficult for UAVs on the market to meet such requirements. For this reason, it took many years to develop a number of UAVs, including rx400, rx600, rx800 electric multi rotor UAVs, fe200, fe300 electric fixed wing UAVs. The UAVs are of integrated design, light weight, low wind resistance, and range from 30 minutes to 70 minutes, It can carry loads ranging from 1 kg to 3 kg, and is suitable for ordinary scenes and scenes with complex terrain and abnormal climate. Combined with many years of line patrol operation experience accumulated by the team and professional team of pilots, AVIC AVIC has achieved good results in the market.
UAV patrol line, the machine must be able to accurately collect the accurate information of the transmission line. The team has developed a navigation scheme based on high-precision positioning technology, which can automatically complete the flight and shooting along the preset route, and the accuracy can reach centimeter level. The team started early. From the early stage, it began to collect accurate spatial location information of power tower in a planned way, set up a power grid data collection library, and based on this, planned the route of UAV line inspection, determined the shooting position and shooting angle of each shooting point in the inspection process, so as to ensure the accuracy of UAV line inspection. AVIC UAV can be equipped with infrared thermometer, lidar and other detection equipment. The team also developed image analysis solutions based on these shooting devices. The official said that the current detection rate and accuracy rate are more than 10 times of the traditional manual line patrol.
In China, the line inspection business of power grid is generally operated by the local power department, and needs to go through the bidding process, which also means that the customers are relatively scattered. In addition to its own marketing team, the team has also established channels in various places, and the company’s flight operations and later data analysis will deliver the results after obtaining the orders.
In 2010, the team began to cooperate with the State Grid Beijing over voltage, and began to develop the UAV system for special line patrol of the power grid. In 2011, the UAV transmission line patrol project was carried out in Hebei, Shanxi and other places, and the test was carried out in Tibet at an altitude of 4800 meters. In 2012, the team became the only successful bidder in the first UAV bidding procurement in many provinces of the State Grid, and carried out the first UAV project with China Southern Power Grid in the same year. In 2013, it began to undertake the power inspection service project of State Grid fixed wing UAV, and cooperated with Inner Mongolia electric power group. In 2015, China Southern Power Grid won the bid for the first UAV operation service outsourcing project to carry out UAV line patrol service in Guangdong. As of today, the company has carried out line patrol operations in more than 20 provinces and cities.
The line inspection business of power grid is generally decentralized operation. At present, many industry application UAV companies also attach importance to this market. AVIC believes that the company has two advantages in this respect. First, the team has rich experience in power inspection and UAV industry. The core team members are from Beijing power supply company, capital general aviation Co., Ltd., Schneider, abb, ZTE, Sifang, Rongxin power electronics, Boeing and other well-known enterprises, with more than 10 years of industry experience. Second, the team is good at customizing the UAV power inspection service scheme. Previously, the team developed a series of UAV power line inspection applications, participated in the development of the State Grid UAV power operation instructions and enterprise standards, and owned the patent of “power line inspection method”. At the same time, the team also mastered the largest power grid data collection library in China, accurate tower spatial data, image data, and other information Installation data, etc., with first mover and data advantages. AVIC AVIC told 36 krypton that since the grid began to try the outsourcing of UAV power inspection service, AVIC AVIC has always been the first in the market coverage, and the revenue of operation service in 2016 has exceeded 20 million yuan.
At present, the UAV line patrol solution is mainly to replace human resources to complete the shooting task, subject to flight time, intelligent degree and other factors, it often needs staff to operate. AVIC told 36 krypton that at present, the UAV is usually operated by two people, and the shooting content is sent back to the headquarters for manual review. These are also the two directions of the team’s next technology iteration. For the latter, the team uses the deep learning technology of artificial intelligence to establish the algorithm model, and uses its own unique massive line inspection photos for training, so as to realize the automatic analysis of the photos taken by the computer.
Restricted by battery technology, it is difficult to make a big technological breakthrough in the short term. Therefore, the team is cooperating with the power grid to build an automatic charging system called “Dragon Nest”. These charging stations will be set up on the tower of the UAV flight line. The UAV can charge and stay at Longchao at night, realizing automatic flight and inspection of the whole line without manual intervention.
The data show that China’s power grid is developing rapidly, and its scale has leaped to the first place in the world. The total length of transmission lines has exceeded 1.18 million km, with an annual growth rate of 6%. 80-90% of the transmission lines pass through the mountains and need to be inspected at least once a month. If the labor cost per kilometer is 20000 / year, the power grid companies spend more than 20 billion yuan on power inspection every year.
At present, AVIC AVIC has set up a team of more than 100 people. Cao Fei, the general manager, holds a master’s degree in industrial design from Leeds University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and automation from North China Electric Power University. He once worked for State Grid Beijing power supply company and capital General Aviation Company Limited (Deputy General Manager). He is one of the founders of manned helicopter power inspection in China. The core team is from North China Electric Power University, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Boeing, ZTE, Sifang, Rongxin power electronics and other well-known universities and enterprises, deeply engaged in the field of electric power and aviation.
Traditional manual line inspection requires inspectors to walk to the bottom of the line tower, often need to cross mountains, which is very inefficient. Usually a team can only inspect two iron towers a day in mountainous areas, but it is often unable to inspect in bad weather. In extreme cases, it is necessary to carry out live climbing tower operation to inspect the hidden defects, and even live wiring is needed to eliminate the hidden dangers, so the inspectors are faced with life-threatening.
Therefore, after 2015, power grid companies mainly use the third-party outsourcing services for inspection and maintenance, and the use of UAV for inspection has become the most economical solution. Taking China Southern Power Grid as an example, it is planned that by 2020, the target proportion of UAV inspection will increase by 20% of the total amount every year, reaching more than 60%. The market potential is huge.
Many domestic UAV hardware companies attach importance to this market, such as ewatt, Zhendi technology, Fangzhi technology, etc., and focus on hardware sales. According to the public information of the new third board, in 2015, ewatt’s UAV sales revenue exceeded 100 million yuan, and obtained nearly 100 million yuan of financing from xinzhongli capital, Beidou fund and other institutions, and landed on the new third board on December 14, 2015; Zhendi technology was founded in 2012. Its unmanned system and UAV products are mainly used in the field of power inspection and aerial mapping of State Grid. Its customers are mainly concentrated in the State Grid Corporation and its provincial branches, and its business income mainly comes from the sales of UAVs; Fangzhi technology inspection system has passed the inspection and test of China Electric Power Research Institute. The multi rotor UAV sold by Fangzhi technology has served the inspection of DC UHV, 500kV, 220kV and other high voltage lines of State Grid Corporation of China, and has cooperated with many provincial power grid units.
Editor in charge: GT