UAS is revolutionizing the utility industry
The use of uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) is revolutionizing the utility industry by improving the speed and efficiency of line inspections. One of the primary benefits of UAS inspection is the quality of images delivered by the state-of-the art cameras affixed to the drones.
Obtaining high-quality RGB images from UAS inspection of the power infrastructure is largely dependent on flight capabilities such as speed and altitude, as well as whether the camera is gimbal-controlled or fixed static to the aircraft.
Multicopter versus helicopter
For example, a helicopter performing linear inspections needs to fly at cruising speed (minimum 30-35 mph) to optimize fuel consumption. Capturing high-quality images at this speed requires a high spec camera – likely 150 megapixels, but this high resolution generates extremely large amounts of data that can lead to storage issues and processing delays. In fact, the amount of data generated can be up to 10 times what is produced by a typical 60-megapixel drone camera. However, the drone’s lower resolution camera should not be considered a downgrade. Because a multicopter UAS flies at a lower speed, usually around 22 mph, the image quality is optimized because the camera is allowed enough time to complete a proper auto-focus per point of interest – resulting in a more targeted, informative image of each asset. Flight altitude is also important for producing higher resolution to maximize the detail of the images. Compared to the helicopter which typically flies at 200-250 feet above ground, UAS can fly arial inspections at lower altitudes (100-150 feet above ground) and the lower and closer perspective results in higher quality data and images.