Someday, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be ubiquitous in everyday conversation. UAVs, or drones, have been intensely discussed in recent years. The topic of privacy—a major concern of UAVs in the U.S. and with the FAA—is debated at all levels of government. Yet, uncertainty stills remains. In Canada, where safety is a primary concern, Transport Canada has communicated guidelines that govern permissible UAV flights. By some accounts, Canada is further along the path in accepting and regulating the use of UAVs than other western countries. The commercial industry should be thankful.

Recently, I was able to partake in a demonstration of Hexagon’s Aibot X6 UAV with various companies, including a utility provider that was looking to use UAVs for inspection purposes, along with other applications. The gravel quarry we chose as the test site paralleled what many utility companies may encounter in the field: extreme wind and temperature conditions, several points of interest, hard-to-see assets, and specific flights paths. Click the image below to watch the Aibot X6 in action.

This UAV demo highlights many relevant applications for any utility organization looking to:

  • Program flight paths for autonomous flight along power lines
  • Determine and view POIs with 360-degree survey capabilities
  • Set safety positions to comply with elevation and distance flight restrictions
  • Adjust sensor positions for precise imagery capture

The demo participants were also given some notes on exploiting imagery. While a primary requirement for many utilities is asset inspection via captured high-resolution still images, tremendous intelligence can be gathered from these photos. Processing and analyzing these images – after geo-referencing – can uncover valuable information for vegetation encroachment around power lines, utility corridor movement, and much more.


About Desmond Khor