Drones for overhead line inspection

Digitalization | Distribution network


“We started with the aftermath of a storm that occurred - one of the first experience with drone inspection was standing in the middle of the forest after a storm broke and seeing a failure within 2 km. The incident was far away, so we flew the drone and quickly identified the fault” ESO engineer.
Unmanned pilots with built-in optical and thermal cameras collect data about grid condition and will help us to estimate difficult locations. In the future, it is planned to use the collected data to develop an algorithm that can automatically detect defects. This technology is one of the key to areas to achieve digitalized airline inspection and defect process.


Drones used in regular OHL inspection process​ for faster and better inspection in selected areas​.

  • Faster inspection goal succeeded in selected areas (forest, fields, swamps, private territories)​;
  • Quality and data processing – not good enough​;
  • Drones still used for unplanned inspections (after storms, for other purposes).

Automated drones inspection, AI usage for defects detection - Sterblue solution:

  • Automated drone inspection and AI works and is promising​;
  • AI does not take into account vegetation from photos​;
  • Currently too expensive solution.

Outsourced inspection using standard and long-range drones - HEPTA airborne solution:

  • Effective outsourced solution for OHL inspection​;
  • High-quality data (gathered and processed)​;
  • For vegetation evaluation Lidar data needed.

Status and Progress

ESO decided to further test and automate the inspection process for overhead lines using LIDAR technology.