Laser range systems are a powerful tool to measure live power installations, since they allow accurate measurements and inspection from a safe distance without disturbing the regular electrical power exploitation. Combined with Global Positioning System (GPS) localisation, laser systems are used to measure clearance around overhead lines, real-time variation of sag depending on cable temperature and warping or bending of station bus rods.
Such a system can be used to supply 3D metric data for maintenance processes, technical and legal audits, hazard assessment and safety training. Spin-off applications include fast modelling of existing installations and update of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) representations of installations. Integration with data from other sources provides an even richer model of the installation.
Current efforts aim at developing an integrated solution with the airborne thermography inspection of overhead lines in a way that minimises costs and enhances the operator’s performance; development is also underway to integrate video and audio streams to create a synchronous and coherent representation of the line track. Serious challenges remain on the robustness and scalability issues, equipment wear out, data integration with GIS and optimal data representation for clients. The long term goal is to integrate the laser scanner seamlessly with other sensors to create real-time 3D models automatically and develop custom classification software for various applications, starting with overhead line clearance.