Unleash live, Optus, AWS join forces for power company Endeavour Energy's 5G drone trial

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Unleash live, Optus, AWS join forces for power company Endeavour Energy's 5G drone trial

Optus and AWS have been tapped by power company Endeavour Energy for a drone trial using 5G to improve electrical grid reliability and worker safety.

Video streaming specialist and AWS partner Unleash live also contributed to the project that commenced in September 2021 and will enable faster identification of damage to powerlines caused by storms, floods, bushfires and other natural disasters.

Endeavour Energy operates a distribution network that supplies power to more than 2.6 million people in New South Wales.

With the help of the vendors and funded by a $648,000 grant from the federal government’s 5G innovation initiative, the energy provider conducted its first on-site inspection of physical electricity infrastructure using a combination of 5G, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), drone technology and ultra-high definition (UHD) cameras.

On-site inspections are currently conducted by Endeavour Energy utilising a large fleet of vehicles, helicopters, and a team of technicians to physically identify and carry out remediation. The drones should save Endeavour Energy time inspecting their network footprint, which is made up of more than 60,000km of powerlines, 400,000 power poles and 32,000 substations across Sydney’s Greater West, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra and the South Coast of New South Wales.

According to Optus, the 5G drones will enable Endeavour Energy to live-stream footage of damaged assets to its control centres in real-time, so crews and materials can be more efficiently deployed for repairs, to reduce the time homes and businesses are without power.

The telco said the technology can also be deployed to help accelerate network remediation and improve worker safety by remotely alerting Endeavour Energy of faults or damaged equipment on the electricity network that could be difficult for humans to manually identify.

The trial was conducted in the Sydney suburb of St Marys with footage streamed using 5G to Endeavour Energy’s training ground in Hoxton Park. The energy provider is set to deploy the solution across infrastructure assets in Penrith and Blacktown in NSW.

Endeavour Energy’s head of operations Scott Ryan said finding a better way to deliver a safe, reliable, and sustainable electricity supply was a big part of the company’s strategy.

“We’re thrilled to work with Optus, AWS and Unleash live, with the support of the Australian Government to expedite the use of 5G drone technology to make faster decisions and expedite critical maintenance to continue to keep the lights on for our customers. We are committed to being at the forefront of the current energy transformation by embracing digital innovation.”

Unleash Live co-founder Hanno Blankenstein said his company’s enterprise platform was being used for many applications within the energy industry for improved energy production through faster and more cost-effective fault detection across renewable energy generation and the connected grid.

“Endeavour Energy's digital power line inspection benefits from automated drone operations and the application of condition monitoring AI, improving safety and reducing the cost of maintaining such high value distributed assets.

“With Australia’s increasing reliance on renewable energy, the safe and reliable transmission of electricity across our power network will be critical. Through working together with Endeavour Energy, Optus and AWS, Australia will be leading the world when it comes to improving grid reliability and reducing the risks associated to wildfires, floods and other public hazards.”

Optus Enterprise boss Chris Mitchell said the test showed the value that 5G brings to enterprise businesses and critical infrastructure.

“The 5G’s ultra-low latency allows customers like Endeavour Energy to leverage a range of technologies like never before. Credit to the Australian Government and our partners in AWS and Unleash live in bringing this to life.”

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