Transpower turns to robots

Transpower's Dr Patrick Strange

 State-owned enterprise Transpower is investing in new technology to check its transmission lines and substations nationwide in a bid to cut costs, improve efficiency and increase safety.

The operator of the national grid is planning a shift to robots and unmanned aerial vehicles to check the lines and substations.

Transpower chief executive Patrick Strange said the company was willing to invest millions of dollars a year in new technology to potentially save millions more in costs.

Resilience had been restored in the grid after a five-year capital investment programme, Transpower said, and the company was now focusing on how to better use existing assets rather than building new ones.

Strange said a substation like the one at Drury, south of Auckland, was worth $20 million.

Transpower was looking at how new technology could help keep costs down and get more out of its existing stations, Strange said.

Using unmanned drones and remotely controlled robots to check substations and transmission lines would reduce callout times and restore power hours earlier in the event of an outage.

The company showed off the new technology today at its Drury substation as part of an International Committee on large Electric Systems (CIGRE) conference.

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