Drones and 5G Could Soon Help Restore Power Outages in NSW

Drones and 5G Could Soon Help Restore Power Outages in NSW
Image: Endeavour Energy

Optus 5G-enabled drones could be deployed in the future by Endeavour Energy to help restore power grids experiencing outages.

Flying the drones is Endeavour Energy, a power company that supplies energy to millions of people in New South Wales. Combined with 5G-enabled drones, the company is using cloud services, artificial intelligence and UHD cameras to assist in power restoration efforts, with a successful test performed today set to inform power restoration efforts in the future. This project began in September 2021. The name of this project? Project Endeavour (we love a cool name).

In operation, drones are fitted with high-resolution cameras and 5G functionality, which lets them transmit photos and live-stream footage to control centres in real-time, better informing what crews should be deployed, what equipment and materials will be needed and how long repairs should take.

Drones are a capable tool to use in this circumstance: relatively cheap to manufacture (especially if you don’t want to risk any lives), drones can access tough-to-reach spots in hazard zones affected by natural disasters, floods and storms.

The test today was conducted in St Marys, a suburb in Western Sydney. Drones were flown over the suburb, with footage streamed to Endeavour Energy’s training station in Hoxton Park. Needless to say, it was a successful demonstration, so now Endeavour Energy plans to use the technology during unplanned power outages to improve safety and efficiency.

This technology is being funded by the Australian government’s 5G innovation initiative, a fund that backs up productivity-focused applications of 5G technology. This initiative was first announced during the 2021 Federal Budget, which has funded other projects like 5G-enabled garbage trucks.

 

“Finding a better way to deliver a safe, reliable, and sustainable electricity supply is in our DNA,” says Scott Ryan, the chief asset and operating officer at Endeavour Energy.

Endeavour Energy is working with Optus, AWS and Unleash live to get the drones operational. The group expects these drones to save man hours that would normally go towards on-site inspections. Endeavour’s network is made up of thousands of kilometres of power poles and powerlines, with 32,000 substations across Sydney’s Greater West, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra and the South Coast of New South Wales.

“Today’s successful test of Project Endeavour shows the value that 5G brings to enterprise businesses and critical infrastructure. The 5G’s ultra-low latency allows customers like Endeavour Energy to leverage a range of technologies like never before,” added Chris Mitchell, the managing director of Optus Enterprise.

Endeavour Energy will be deploying these 5G drones to assets in Penrith and Blacktown in New South Wales.