Media release: Drones inspect Central Victorian power network

22 August, 2021

Powercor is continuing to test new drone technology to inspect powerlines and pole-tops faster and in greater detail than ever before, in flights over the Charlton and surrounding areas this week.

Remotely piloted drones are making the inspections along 20 kilometres of powerlines in the Charlton, Wedderburn and Bridgewater area along the Calder Highway and along the main supply line from Bendigo on 23 and 24 August, weather permitting.

The work, which will occur during daylight hours on both days, is in addition to Powercor’s ongoing continuous program of asset inspections, which are also being conducted by crews in vehicles, on foot and by helicopter.

A specialist team is trialling the Matrice 300 RTK – a powerful industrial drone platform with an advanced flight controller system, six-directional sensing, real-time video transmission, thermal imaging and obstacle-detection systems.

This trial follows a trial of a similar technology near Ballarat last month and in the Otways last September, with results from the new Charlton trial to inform whether the technology is suitable for inclusion in Powercor’s continuous inspection program.

Powercor Head of Network Asset Management John Mifsud said the drone inspections would cover a large area, quickly, with high-definition cameras used to capture the condition of powerlines quickly and easily.

“This trial is about finding new ways to keep our network operating safely and reliably,” Mr Mifsud said.

“While these drones won’t replace our existing inspection methods, we’re looking at whether they have a permanent role in our program in the future.”

Powercor manages its network of almost 90,000km of powerline and 588,000 poles through a rigorous inspection and maintenance program, on top of a network-wide vegetation management program clearing trees and shrubs well away from powerlines.

Drone fast facts

  • Model: Matrice 300 RTK
  • Dimensions: 810×670×430 mm (L×W×H)
  • Weight: Approx. 3.6 kg (without batteries) and 6.3kg (with two TB60 batteries)
  • Max Speed: 83km/h
  • Average operation speed: 3km/h
  • Max Ascent Speed: 6 m/s
  • Max Descent Speed (vertical): 5 m/s
  • Max height of operation: 5000 m
  • Operational height above powerlines: 4 m
  • Max Flight Time: 55 min