BVLOS flights servicing for Westnetz high-voltage cables

Hamburg-based startup Beagle Systems and distribution grid operator Westnetz have launched Germany's first regular inspection of a power line using drones controlled remotely. The drones are used to inspect a 40-kilometer high-voltage overhead transmission line in Gerolstein in Germany's Eifel region. The system is designed to help Westnetz locate faults as quickly as possible. If a fault notification is received by Westnetz's system, the drone flies to the relevant section of the power line and takes high-definition pictures. This allows Westnetz to isolate and rectify problems like foreign bodies the line more quickly.

Autonomous inspection flight

The drone flight is largely automated using a predefined sequence. The UAS flies autonomously at speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour to the site of operation, takes the images there and flies back again. The drone is controlled and monitored by Beagle Systems.

"Since we don't have to send a drone pilot to the site, flights can be implemented very quickly and flexibly," says Oliver Lichtenstein, one of the founders of Beagle Systems. Drone operations in the commercial sector in Germany are currently carried out almost exclusively by pilots who control the unmanned system from the ground. Beagle Systems is one of the few specialized providers to have regulatory approval to conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) inspection flights over uninhabited terrain.

The start of regular operations was preceded by a test phase lasting around two years. During this time, Beagle Systems and electricity distributor Westnetz tested the use of drones to inspect long power lines, among other use cases.

Beagle Systems is a "Drone as a Service" provider specializing in long-distance flights. The team includes members from six different countries, and develops specialized long-range drones at its facility in Hamburg's Wandsbek area. The "Beagle M" model used by Westnetz, part of the E.ON Group, has a wingspan of 2.5 meters and can transport a payload of up to three kilograms.

via: Beagle Systems