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Telangana uses drones to survey extra high tension power lines, project could be scaled up

The state government is looking to ramp up adoption by invoking the new Drone Rules which has relaxed several norms.

Telangana successfully concluded a trial run of an aerial survey of extra high tension (EHT) transmission towers & lines of TS Transmission Company (TS-TRANSCO) using drones, the government said in a press release on November 16.

A Hyderabad-based startup named Centillion Networks took up the project and used drones for inspection, monitoring, and patrolling of EHT transmission towers, lines, and substations with a high-quality 4K resolution camera and AI-based image recognition system. It was taken up at EHT transmission line towers for 220 KV Chandrayagutta – Ghanapur line, 220 KV Shivarampally – Gachibowli line, 132 KV Minpur -Jogipet line, 220 KV Budidampadu – Waddekothapally line, and for another ten towers.

What happened during the inspection?

  • High-resolution imagery and AI-based feature identification were used to prepare inspection reports
  • Reports which included specification of exact issues were prepared for each tower

Venkat Chundi, Founder, Centiilion Networks Pvt Ltd & HC Robotics Pvt Ltd said, “Tower inspection by drones is useful for complete and accurate data collection and analysis. In addition, there is reduction in maintenance costs if there are periodic inspections. Since accurate data is collected the risk involved during manual repairs can be reduced to a great extent.”

AI-equipped drones capture components of power lines

Image captured by drones during inspection of power lines at Telangana | Source: HC Robotics

Images obtained by MediaNama show that the drones that were used for inspecting the power lines captured various components of an EHS power line such as:

  • Joints
  • Cleats
  • Vibration dampers
  • Tower tops
  • Insulators
  • Earth Wires
  • Spacers

Maharashtra was approved to conduct power lines survey in 2020

According to a report in the Hindu, Maharashtra was given the go-ahead to conduct an aerial survey of high tension power lines by the Civil Aviation ministry last year.

Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (MSETCL) had then said that each zone will be given a drone, which will be equipped with ultra HD cameras to capture high-resolution close-up photographs and videos of EHV lines and towers, according to the report.

New drone rules to help scale the project faster: Telangana

TS Transco is hoping to scale the project. And on those lines, the principal secretary of IT and Industries of Telangana said that the new Drone Rules 2021 will help in scaling the adoption rapidly.

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The new Drone Rules 2021 which relaxed several existing norms and reduced compliance burden on the industry was notified by the Ministry of Civil Aviation Ministry on August 26. These rules have now replaced the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, issued in March this year.

Read MediaNama’s full summary of the Drone Rules 2021 here. Here are a few key takeaways: 

Reduction in compliance burden

  • Unique authorisation number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation, and import permission for drone components.
  • The number of forms/permissions has been reduced from 25 to 5.
  • All permissions shall be through a single nodal point i.e. DigitalSky platform.
  • No security clearance is required for conducting any activity in the drone sector.

Airspace maps for drones

  • Interactive airspace maps with green, yellow, and red zones will be launched on the digital sky platform and shall also be accessible using APIs.
  • Yellow zone for drones reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the perimeter of airports.
  • No permission is required for operating a drone in green zones and up to 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the perimeter of airports.

Registration of drones

  • Online registration of all drones required through the DigitalSky platform.
  • Easy process prescribed for sale, lease, gift, transfer, and deregistration of drones.
  • A limited window of opportunity is provided for regularisation of existing drones in the country. However, a GST-paid invoice shall be required for the same.

Drone training and certification:

  • Drone training and exams to be carried out by a DGCA authorised drone training school.
  • DGCA shall prescribe training requirements, oversee drone training schools, and provide drone pilot licences online.
  • No drone pilot licence is required for operating nano drones and micro drones for non-commercial use.
  • Type certification of drones delegated to the certification bodies that are authorised by the Quality Council of India.

Drone Deliveries and Drone Taxis:

  • Drones up to 500 kg shall be covered under these rules and this may pave the way for heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis.
  • Special drone corridors shall be developed for cargo deliveries.

Promotion of R&D and Indigenous Manufacturing:

  • No type certification, drone registration, remote pilot licence, or prior permission for flying drones required during research and development.
  • The Central Government shall issue certification standards that shall promote the use of made-in-India technologies, designs, drone components, and India’s NavIC regional positioning system.
  • An Unmanned Aircraft Systems Promotion Council including industry experts and academic institutions shall be set up. This council shall facilitate the development of a business-friendly regime, provide policy advice, and promote the overall development of the drone ecosystem.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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