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Web Exclusive | September 2017

First transmission line cable construction completed using drones

Sharper Shape and SkySkopes, in cooperation with an investor owned utility have developed an innovative and unique way to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for power line construction.  The mission used the Sharper A6 UAS to string sock lines for a 675 kV line construction project.  Matt Dunlevy, CEO and President, SkySkopes, said, “this use-case highlights how UAS are a safe and effective option for many applications in the utility industry beyond basic inspections.”

Sock pulling, the act of flying a strong and lightweight rope and attaching it to the towers, is typically performed via helicopters or by workers climbing the towers. Both these methods involve risk to both helicopter pilots and ground crews. The use of UAS is eliminating the previously complex process consisting of several steps of reattaching the rope and decreasing the risk of injury for involved people.

“This is a great proof of concept for unmanned aircraft because we proved that they can string both the outboard lines and the centre line through the middle of the centre phase of a tower. There are risks associated with both helicopter and tower climbing methods. Now there is another option as proven by Sharper Shape and SkySkopes” Dunlevy said.

Paul Frey, Director – Electric Utilities, Sharper Shape stated, “When the utility first reached out there were lots of unknowns. Working as a team, we pulled together, developing a test plan, and executing the flights. We ran five test flights to test a number of objectives related to pulling the line through each of the tower phases, triggering the ‘PAC Man’ and setting the line on the centre pulley.”
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