Executing Mission in Powerlines with Smart Inspect

Smart Inspect is an advanced and cutting-edge inspection tool available in Unleash live Autofly app. It allows the operator to easily execute repeatable missions for asset inspections and a pre-programmed flight path to be executed at the push of a button without complicated mission planning. Smart inspect is available on a range of DJI drones, please refer to our compatibility matrix in this article.

Smart Inspect missions are currently available for a range of assets including Wind turbine inspections, distribution lines, transmission towers, telecommunication towers, cooling towers and a range of other assets.

Our Smart Inspect catalogue is constantly growing for different assets and can be customised for your specific inspection needs.

If you require customisation for your inspection profile please contact your Unleash live account manager.

Smart Inspect for Power Distribution Poles

The requirements of a specific inspection operating procedure entail different types of flights and image capture methods. Smart Inspect helps to automate a capture methodology as a preset in the Autofly app reducing the time to capture for the pilot significantly while improving the accuracy and consistency of capture.

Advantages of using Smart Inspect:

  • Increase in efficiency and safety
  • Faster, repeatable and more consistent data capture
  • Reduce the need for complex pilot input and focus on the data collection
  • Increased number of pole inspections per battery.
  • Pre-planned missions, distributed to your field teams, allow greater control over field operations

Pre Checklist

Before you undergo the Smart Inspection make sure the following list of these things has been checked:

  • Operational Checklist for Autofly
  • Your Autofly app is updated with the latest version. Please refer to this article on how to install the latest update.
  • Your drone pilots have completed the Autofly and Smart Inspect training modules 
  • You have uploaded the latest version of the mission in the Unleash live app and it is available in your Autofly GCS

Executing Smart Inspection in Distribution lines

  • The pilot navigates the drone directly over the asset and faces the gimbal directly down as shown in the image. The crossbar should be running horizontally across the screen. 

Note: This configuration is used by the Unleash live platform to identify the GPS location for the asset and the starting point for the Smart Inspect mission execution. It’s important that this is the starting point to ensure that inspections are conducted in a consistent and safe manner.

If the organisation wants to associate the collected data with an asset ID  while in the field, the pilot can enter the Asset ID into the Autofly Smart inspect "Mission Name" field in additional settings. The images can also be grouped to the asset once the data is uploaded to Unleash live cloud.

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2.   The pilot initiates the Smart Inspect program which will trigger the drone to follow a             path similar to the one outlined below.

  • A total of five images will be captured per asset. This is the standard distribution pole inspection path. Fewer or more images and inspection points can be captured depending on the asset type and the customer requirements. The second set of thermal images will be captured based on the customer’s requirements and hardware used.

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The collected imagery will be uploaded to the Unleash live platform using different methods depending on the purpose of the flight and the connectivity available at the location:

  • Image sync - live connection at the site (typically Starlink, 4G or 5G is required due to the large file size). Once the drone lands after the flight, it will automatically initiate the upload of the collected image data to the secure Unleash live media platform. This can be time-consuming depending on the number of images and the network connection speed.
    • The user can remove the SD card from the drone and insert it into the Smart controller
    • The user will then open Autofly 
    • The User should then select correct Unleash live device they wish to upload from and select "Upload" instead of "Autofly"
    • A file browser window will open on the External SD card root directory 
    • Select the files to upload and choose "upload"
    • The files will be automatically uploaded to Unleash live 
    • Upload progress can be seen within the DJI Smart Controller notification Image upload - RC upload 
  • Image upload - PC upload
The upload can be initiated manually once the pilot and controller are back in an area with connectivity. The pilot will remove the SD card from the controller and upload the imagery directly to the central secure Unleash live media platform using the laptop or desktop browser UI. The pilot can also remove the SD card and store the imagery in an organisational repository such as Google Drive and then pull the files into the Unleash live platform via the UI. Unleash live offers integration and secure file transfer with other file storage systems such as dropbox, AWS S3, Azure, FTP etc.

Once uploaded, all images are stored securely in the Unleash live Media Drive (Library) for media management and are accessible by authorised users. Images can be organised within the Unleash live Media Drive using folders and tags that align with the organisational asset management methodology.

Live Streaming and Audio during Smart Inspect

Image capture is the recommended method for collecting asset condition information and running any analysis; however, if the pilot wishes to activate live streaming using the Autofly app (for example, allowing a remote SME or approved sub-contractor to view the asset and provide remote training or guidance) it can be accessed one of two ways:

  • Live stream - Internal watch page:
    Users from the organisation and part of the specific "Team" in which the flight is being performed, will have the option to view the live feed from the internal watch page. The watch page requires Unleash live account login credentials and will only be accessible to users with the correct login and permissions. 
  • Live stream - Public watch page:
    An organisation can configure a temporary specific URL that can be used by remote viewers to watch the inspection. No login is required to view this feed. This is appropriate for a one-to-many streaming environment where the flight is not streaming sensitive data and remote experts may join in to work as a team to improve the quality and delivery of the inspection.
  • Remote Cockpit:
    When additional functionality or a remote interface is required with the drone, an authorised user can access the Unleash live platform and navigate to the Remote Cockpit. Using the Remote Cockpit, the viewer can watch the stream, control the camera gimbal (with the pilot still in primary control of flying the drone) or be authorised to take full control of the drone. Note: The pilot sets the level of remote access he wishes to provide and can take back control at any time. Additionally, a Remote Cockpit user and a pilot can communicate with each other via the audio push-to-talk feature.