Once again, Sterblue spread its wings and flew sky high — this time for Energijos Skirstymo Operatorius AB (ESO) and Lietuvos Energija innovation hub (LE) in Lithuania. While carrying out electric grid inspections, our drone operators could gain exciting insights into the forests and birds of the Baltic State.
Pilot project in Lithuania
Currently, most distribution line inspections take place manually by operators from the ground level. As this can be time-consuming, expensive and dangerous, Sterblue sends up drones with automatic flight software. In May, our pilot project with ESO in Lithuania started: we demonstrated automatic inspections to the electricity and gas distribution operator serving 1.6 million customers.
“We have tested automated drone flights over our medium voltage overhead lines and gathered a lot of high quality data. We see big potential in utilizing Sterblue AI for detecting defects and it is a key component in our goal — fully automated inspection process.” Karolis Gesevicius, Innovation Expert at ESO
In order to inspect 12km 10kV distribution line, we collected and analysed 2000 images by creating a report within minutes. This included the inspection of 255 poles in a day — some of them in the deep forests. In doing so, we ensure defect detections in significantly shorter and safer processes.
By operating on-site, we could train drone pilots from Lithuania for future missions and address individual requirements.
“We’re not only here to demonstrate how the Sterblue solution works but also to understand how we can best accompany ESO on the long run to industrialise their grid inspections.” Nicolas Draber, Chief Operations Officer at Sterblue
Challenges: Forests and stork nests
While approximately one third of Lithuania is covered by forests, sections of electric grids are surrounded by dense vegetation. To still ensure high resolution pictures, the DJI off-the-shelf drone was operating by flying at only two meters from the structure.
Electric grids are not only permeated by forests but also by the Lithuanian national animal: the white stork. Building nests on poles to breed, special protection is required. This is why nests are removed from one pole to another, away from the wires. Frequently, even cranes are needed to carry the heavy nests.
The pilot project with ESO is a big milestone in the expansion of Sterblue: it is our first mission in the Baltics. Inspecting the grid in the nature of Lithuania, we cannot wait to tell you about our next upcoming projects! Until then, … Cheers!