Transpower and Ventia are currently trialling the use of drones and AI technology to reduce power disruption and improve the efficiency of tower and transmission line inspections throughout Auckland.

A brand-new trial - the program fiocues on the use of drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to reduce disruption to tens of thousands of residents across the Auckland region.

Together with client Transpower, Ventia is currently testing drones fit with high resolution cameras to inspect towers and transmission lines throughout Auckland.

Historically, Transpower has inspected the condition of the lines across the network using helicopters, which can create significant disturbance from noise and propeller wash.

The benefits 

The new remote aerial vehicles (drones) are safer and significantly reduce the impact on the local environment. Fit with computer-operated cameras, the drones can fly between towers and inspect up to three separate conductors (lines) in a single pass, while the images are monitored safely from the ground.

This new technology is proving beneficial for planners and engineers, enabling more efficient and thorough inspections of essential National Grid infrastructure.

"Already we are seeing the benefit of using drones to assess the state of our lines," said Mark Ryall, GM Grid Service Delivery at Transpower. "The solution currently being trialled in Auckland was recently able to identify lightning damage to a conductor that would have been difficult to spot from a helicopter - and impossible to spot from the ground."

The images obtained by the drones are also being used to develop a cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI) solution, and are evaluated for any defects and damage on lines or towers.

We believe technology will not only help us to maintain and operate the grid in a more efficient way, but also enable New Zealand's transition to a decarbonised economy.

Ventia has been a trusted partner to Transpower for more than two decades. We provide maintenance and project services to Transpower to support the delivery of electricity 24/7 New Zealand-wide through 11,238 route kilometres of high voltage transmission line, 60 route kilometres of underground and submarine transmission cable, 40,674 supporting towers and poles, 169 substations and 1,093 transformers.