Western Power continues to embrace new and innovative technology in delivering services to the community.
In a WA first, inspection robots are being trialled to further enhance Western Power’s network reliability by using telepresence technology in substations.
The substation inspection robot is a ‘virtual presence’ that enables engineers to dial-in remotely to provide instant onsite technical support.
The trial followed a proof of concept project to analyse how using robotics could provide an autonomous 24/7 presence at substations across the network.
The project, which uses an agile rapid prototyping approach, began in October 2020 and involved several stages of innovative advancements with the finished product deployed at substations in June 2022 for trials.
Western Power CEO Sam Barbaro said the substation robot trial was part of the business’ drive to utilise advanced technology and staff expertise to safely and efficiently improve services to the community.
“Through this trial, we aimed to identify how we can provide more instantaneous diagnostics in our substations when a fault occurs, enabling quicker repair and restoration times for the community,” he stated.
“It enables our engineers to conduct inspections remotely. This is particularly advantageous in regional areas as it reduces travel time, facilitating faster response times for customers and enabling our crews to undertake other on-ground work.
With LiDAR, GPS antenna, GPS nodes, 4G antennas, depth camera, pan/tilt camera and live feed camera features, the robot can pinpoint positional accuracy and cross feed real-time visual capabilities. It can be controlled from anywhere and is capable of performing autonomous missions by avoiding obstacles and navigating through different terrain.
“Using our robots to perform more routine inspections can identify issues earlier, avoiding costly repairs, and improve network reliability. It also serves as an additional control for physical security and safety for our staff and community,” Mr Barbaro added.
“We hope to expand this initiative so that future iterations enable us to use this technology as our eyes and ears onsite 24/7.”