UKZN Power Line Robot Wows Crowds at Chicago Expo
Engineers at UKZN working on a power line inspection robot, Mr Timothy Rowell and Mr Trevor Lorimer, from the Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, recently exhibited their technology at the IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution Exposition, which was held in Chicago from 14-17 April 2014. According to its organisers, the exhibition is aimed at showcasing the technologies, products, companies and minds that will lead the electricity industry through the next fifty years – and beyond.
The power line inspection robot was started by Professor Edward Boje as a master’s project, which has since grown with industry backing due to its potential use in a real-world application. The robot is essentially a platform that can carry inspection equipment along overhead power lines. The purpose of this is to find damage on the lines and the towers that support them before that damage progresses enough to cause disruptions to the transmission of electricity. The robot is innovative in that it aims to perform inspection tasks in a way that should be cheaper, use up fewer man-hours, and provide more detail of the line when compared to existing methods of inspection. The project is a joint effort between the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Eskom.
Lorimer said, ‘We put our robot on display at PES 2014 to publicise our advancements and make contacts in the electricity industry, with the view of eventually marketing the technology. The robot drew crowds of onlookers while it moved on its own around the expo stand – a mockup of a piece of power line and associated hardware – to demonstrate its capabilities, while we engaged with people from around the world, interested in using the machine on their lines.’
- Prashina Kallideen