US Army Research Lab develops power line detect-and-avoid sensor for UAVs

US Army Research Lab develops power line detect-and-avoid sensor for UAVs link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines
  • The US Army Research Laboratory has developed a new sensor to help UAVs detect and avoid energized power lines
  • Its sensor detects the electromagnetic field of a nearby power line and uses software to automatically direct the UAV to change its flightpath away from a collision
  • The ability to detect the directional flow of nearby electric fields could also allow UAVs to navigate alongside power lines
  • This technology has significant dual-use potential and is expected to offer the military a better means for ground and air-based vehicles to avoid electric power lines when moving. It is also useful for mapping out power grids or locating damaged wires, after a hurricane, or as part of a nation-building effort
  • The same technology is beneficial to power companies that require routine and emergency inspection of many miles of power lines to detect tree encroachment, excessive sag and other issues
  • The US Army claims existing wire detect-and-avoid technologies that rely on radar or optical sensors are too bulky, expensive, technically limited and power-hungry. Instead, it says improvements have been made with its electromagnetic detection system by relying more on software
  • The US Army Research Laboratory has also licensed its power line detect-and-avoid technology to Manifold Robotics, a start-up with an unmanned surface vehicle that does surveying work for commercial customers. The company wants to further develop the technology to survey power line locations to help other UAVs navigate around or nearby
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