To ensure reliable electric power distribution, utility companies must conduct periodic inspections to identify trees and other obstacles near power transmission lines and check for physical deterioration of the conductors or insulators. Examining the lines from the ground or from an aircraft, even trained experts can provide only subjective estimates of the distance between hazards and power lines. Multiple passes are often required to complete an inspection, making the process expensive and time-consuming.
Albatroz Engineering has developed the Power Line Maintenance Inspection system (PLMI), an automated, real-time system that integrates all inspections and provides exact distance measurements. Built using MathWorks™ tools, PLMI uses sophisticated data segmentation algorithms to analyze LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and captures infrared, ultraviolet, and video camera images.
"MATLAB proved to be the ideal platform to develop, test, and analyze several different image acquisition and signal processing algorithms," notes Alberto Vale, chief research and development engineer at Albatroz Engineering. "With MATLAB, the time between idea and implementation is very short. As a result, we developed our first working prototype in less than six months, anticipating our time to market by three or four months."