By 2024, Drones, Robotics T&D To Touch Over $16Bn

by CXOtoday News Desk    Mar 18, 2016


Global investment in drones and robotics technologies for transmission and distribution systems is expected to total nearly $16.2bn from 2015 to 2024, according to a Navigant Research report.

While many questions the safety and security of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) in public airspace, the drones and robotics technologies is gaining popularity in the commercial space. Transmission and distribution (T&D) operators and utilities across the globe are seriously looking at exploring UAVs to reduce costs, improve safety, and increase reliability and response times across their systems says Navigant Research. 

T&D utilities have traditionally performed line inspections and maintenance, storm damage assessments, and vegetation management using line crews, helicopters, and third-party inspection services companies. Working on T&D systems is cost-intensive, difficult, and highly dangerous, and DRTD solutions represent an alternative with the potential to offer many benefits to grid operators. But the DRTD market is still at a very early stage, with new developments and product releases occurring daily.

“Working on high and medium-voltage T&D systems is difficult, expensive, and highly dangerous; in fact, a lineworker is considered one of the 10 most dangerous occupations in the United States,” says James McCray, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “While the DRTD market is still at an early stage, there’s a strong motivation in allowing utilities and transmissions operators to preform inspections and maintenance without endangering crew members,” he added.

The stability and reliability of T&D systems is an integral part of economic development and growth. As these systems become more interconnected across service territories, operational issues can easily cascade across borders, causing larger problems. Maintaining T&D systems is typically a utility’s number one priority, and DRTD technologies can assist in assessing areas to determine where crews should be deployed, the research suggests.