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News Brief | February 2012

Elecrama Engineer Infinite: Robot for transmission line inspection bags 1st prize

A demo model robot for transmission line inspection emerged as the winner of the coveted Engineer Infinite 1st prize. Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, personally handed over the prize to the three-student-team of Gaurav Mahashabde, Sandesh Dongare and Khushal Tipre from AC Patil College of Engineering, Navi Mumbai, and their guide Dr MV Bhatkar. RN Nayak, CMD, PowerGrid expressed his desire for commercial production of the robot and taking a cue, the students have planned to file for a patent. Currently, inspection and verification of damage in transmission lines depends on the technician who, using binoculars, covers the lines in a helicopter and notes damaged spots in wires and insulators. SEBs and companies deploy teams called ‘linemen’ who are each paid about Rs 25,000 monthly plus a dearness allowance of Rs 7,500 totalling, about Rs 1 lakh expense per month. On an annualised basis this works out to Rs 12 lakh. Thermal binoculars and special inspection attire can cost between Rs 22 – 25 lakh a piece. Compared to this, the robot will cost Rs 625,000 and will have a payback period of merely two years. Besides, helicopters hovering over live 400-800 kV lines can, at times, be extremely dangerous.
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