According to its designers, Segula Technologies' Topone drone project will revolutionize visual and thermographic inspections of underground power lines.
Tunnel inspection missions are exposed to inherent dangers such as low oxygen content, high concentrations of noxious gases and extreme temperatures. The drone project aims to make these operations safer by developing a prototype drone capable of autonomously carrying out checks on power lines in underground tunnels. This will enable visual inspection technicians to carry out their work without having to descend into the galleries, thereby minimizing risks.
The project's main technological challenge is to enable the aerial platform to navigate autonomously in environments devoid of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, relying on onboard sensors for three-dimensional perception of the environment. In addition, the drone will be equipped with RGB and thermal cameras, as well as environmental sensors to gather valuable data on conditions inside the galleries. This will facilitate visual inspections of power lines in the visual and infrared spectrum, ensuring an accurate assessment of their condition.
Inspections will be faster, safer and of better quality, resulting in cost savings and improved maintenance planning. The thermal camera will identify potential hot spots, while the RGB camera will check for defects such as breaks or cracks that may have caused overheating.
Segula engineers are actively working on identifying the project's requirements and developing the drone's software, in parallel with the prototype's hardware design. Testing of the prototype is scheduled until August 2024, and the prototype will be operational in September 2024.
Topone is one of 200 research and innovation projects carried out each year by Segula Technologies.
These drones could also be used in other sectors, such as rail infrastructure construction.
Photo taken from france.segulatechnologies.com DR