New Braunfels Utilities (Texas) will use an unmanned aerial system, or drone, to inspect about 500 power poles along five miles of distribution lines, reports San Antonio Express-News. Historically, this job was done by workers in elevated bucket trucks.
The pilot program will cost $35,000 and is expected to take about a week to complete. The drone is equipped with regular and infrared camera. Video from the drone will be analyzed to identify loose connections, leaking oil, rust and deterioration, and any hot spots.
CPS Energy in San Antonio completed a similar pilot, where it inspected 50 towers in 2.5 days, a job that would have taken two to three weeks using bucket trucks.