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Bhutan’s Robotics Project: Drones in Power Utilities

Robotic automation is considered to be the future of manufacturing.
  • Innotech
  • |
  • January 27, 2022

Robotics is an interdisciplinary field of science and engineering & technology that deals with the conception, design, and operation of robots. Robotics encompasses computer science, electronics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and bioengineering. Robots can replicate or replace human actions and as such, present great potential in their application across various different sectors. As technological advances continue to be made, research, design and building new robots serve several practical purposes. Robots are regularly deployed for directing tasks that may be too difficult for people to perform consistently. Robotic automation is considered to be the future of manufacturing.

Applications

EnergyDrones, one of the most advanced subsets of robotics, will be used by Innotech-DRIVE to monitor power lines in the energy sector to strengthen weak points and boost efficiency.
AgricultureTo perform repetitive tasks such as weed control and harvesting.
HealthcareAssist doctors in performing operations with increased precision.
ManufacturingRepetitive and common tasks such as welding, assembly, packing, etc. These tasks can easily be performed by robots while leaving the mentally challenging and creative tasks to humans. Robots can be trained to perform repetitive and monotonous tasks with precision under the guidance and supervision of a human. This option is also optimal for manufacturing processes that are dangerous for humans.

Drones in Power Utilities

With the vision to implement innovative solutions that contribute to socio-economic development of the nation, DHI InnoTech has collaborated with Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) Limited to implement a pilot project that utilizes drones for power maintenance and operation.

Bhutan’s steep and rugged terrain makes the routine maintenance of transmission infrastructure highly difficult, and also poses a huge health risk to field inspectors. Drone technology enables faster scheduled maintenance operation of power infrastructures, including accurate fault inspection using a data analytics platform. As a result, there is significant reduction of cost in routine maintenance. It also promotes safety by minimizing accidents during field inspections.

The main objectives of the project is to build a drone use case for power transmission line monitoring and operations. These include designing, implementing, testing, and operating power utility system. Further, it will reduce human intervention by taking inspectors away from dangerous inspection cycles thereby promoting safety.

The learnings from drone utilization for power asset inspections, in particular for transmission grid operation and maintenance, can create value in three ways:

  • Reduction of cost (automation creates opportunities)
  • Increase in revenue (recommendation and prediction systems can reduce expenses and enhance efficiency)
  • Launch of new lines of business (enables new projects that were not possible before).

Challenges to Implementing Robotics

  • Lack of skilled workforce
  • Risk to job security
  • Lack of mature technology
  • Absence of standardization and regulation.
English (UK)