5G drones are coming to service Australia’s power grid

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Endeavor Energy says it will deploy more in New South Wales

Australian electricity distributor Endeavor Energy announced this week plans to deploy 5G drones to help parts of its electrical grid using 5G drones. The company staged a successful flight demonstration this week and said it would deploy them in Penrith and Blacktown, New South Wales. Endeavor said the drones will improve worker safety and speed service restoration following natural disasters and other unexpected outage conditions.

Endeavor supplies power to more than 2.6 million Australians. It operates power services in Sydney’s Greater West, the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands, Illawarra and the South Coast of New South Wales. The company is responsible for maintaining more than 60,000 km (32,783 mi) of power lines and more than 32,000 substations across the area.

At present, on-site inspections are handled by Endeavor Energy personnel using ground vehicles and helicopters. The company anticipates that as 5G drone use increases, it will be able to reduce the number of vehicles and helicopters it will need to carry out inspection and remediation efforts.

“The 5G drones will enable Endeavor Energy to live-stream footage of damaged assets to its control centers in real-time, so crews and materials can be efficiently deployed for repairs, reducing the time homes and businesses are without power. The technology can also be deployed to help accelerate network remediation and improve worker safety by remotely alerting Endeavor Energy of faults or damaged equipment on the electricity network that could be difficult for humans to manually identify, ”said the energy company.

The drones were developed with Australian telco Optus, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and video analytics developer Unleash Live. The Australian Federal Government’s 5G Innovation Initiative picked up the tab, Endeavor Energy noted.

The 5G Innovation Initiative provides nearly A $ 20 million (US $ 14.8 million) to support 19 projects in Australian agriculture, construction, manufacturing, transport, education and training. Besides Endeavor Energy’s 5G drones, projects include a remote-controlled 5G firefighting tank, 5G UAVs for medical supply delivery to remote locations, livestock management and improved traffic management for Sydney’s harbor ferries.

Regulations lag despite movement forward by industries and carriers exploring the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). In 2021 the FCC noted that it was taking a fresh look at licensing spectrum for drone operations. The original AIA request was primarily focused on line-of-sight (LOS) drone operations, the FCC noted, and now the agency wants to take into how use cases for drones – including those beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) – have evolved in the past few years, and how they are likely to change in the future, as it thinks about how to proceed with setting aside spectrum.



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