Connecticut police weren’t happy when a teenager rigged a drone with a flamethrower and took YouTube videos – in fact, the state made efforts to outlaw weaponized drones completely. But a Chinese utility company in Xaingyang thinks differently.
Refuse caught in power lines is a problem everywhere, and in China they’ve come up with an innovative way of dealing with it. The trash is generally floating garbage such as plastic bags; in some cases, trash stuck in power lines can cause outages. Formerly, the Xaingyang power company sent employees up in a cherrypicker to remove trash caught in power lines, a time consuming and sometimes dangerous job.
Now, the company uses modified DJI S1000+ drones to do the job. Apparently the drones are equipped with a flamethrower device that uses pressurized fire to target the trash, burning it off of the wires effectively. The drone operator stays on the ground, allowing the company to cover more ground safely.
While the concept of flamethrowers around electrical systems seems potentially dangerous, there is no doubt that drones are being used for many more jobs by utility companies. Inspections, power line stringing, surveying and planning are all routinely carried out by drones across the globe.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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