DeltaQuad VTOL UAV Selected for BVLOS Powerline Inspections

By Mike Ball / 17 Jul 2020

Vertical Technologies DeltaQuad VTOL UAV

Vertical Technologies’ DeltaQuad VTOL UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) has been selected by infrastructure inspection company Skyqraft to perform BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) operations in order to inspect a large portion of the Swedish power grid.

Skyqraft initially performed Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) and Extended Visual Line Of Sight (EVLOS) trials with a DeltaQuad Pro #MAP UAV, and was then awarded an additional waiver for BVLOS operations and flights over populated areas based on the success of these trials, as well as the drone’s advanced failsafe features and redundant flight system. Following further BVLOS flights over sparsely populated areas, the company ultimately began urban operations, autonomously surveying 90km of powerlines crossing the city of Gävle. These missions marked the first official autonomous BVLOS flight of a fixed-wing UAV over a Swedish city.

To date, Skyqraft has logged over 30 BVLOS flight hours and inspected more than a thousand kilometers of powerlines with the DeltaQuad UAV. The unmanned aircraft operates with full autonomy from takeoff to landing, using long-range radio transmission combined with LTE-based video and control links to gather high-resolution images. These images are used for early indicators of failures to the powerlines, isolators, and towers.

The DeltaQuad UAV uses automatic terrain following to survey the powerlines at a safe altitude, with an onboard camera that is automatically triggered to record high-resolution photographs of the selected path, and a live video feed delivered to the operator. An onboard ADS-B transceiver provides situation awareness within airspace at distances of up to 100km away.

Skyqraft uses sophisticated AI and machine learning technologies to automatically analyze the resulting data sets, flagging faults to any of the core components for manual review. Every confirmed fault is added to a daily report combined with imagery and exact geographic location. The reports are dispatched to the designated maintenance teams, who in most cases can act within 24 hours of detection. This drone-based powerline inspection solution provides reliable risk assessments that allow energy companies to stay ahead of impending grid failures.

Skyqraft BVLOS UAV powerline inspection

AI-based powerline fault detection

Umar Chughtai, CTO and co-founder of Skyqraft, commented: “The DeltaQuad has enabled us to inspect areas that were virtually inaccessible using regular inspection drones. The advanced planning features allow us to create terrain-following missions in minutes, and even on our longest flights we use less than half of the available battery capacity. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing allows us to operate basically anywhere, and the long-range capabilities significantly reduce the time and effort required to collect the data we need.”

“Vertical Technologies has been a great partner supporting us in every aspect of our UAV operations. The DeltaQuad drones have been performing with such consistent stability and reliability that they are now the core platform in our operations.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact