Surely "visual line of sight" is redundant, yes?
A French drone company reckons it has flown a power line inspection drone remotely for 50km (30 miles) – and controlled the aircraft over a public 3G network. Flown to inspect power lines belonging to electricity transmission firm RTE, a drone from Delair Tech was successfully piloted for 50km along a pre-approved route next …
Not really. Line of sight in this instance would refer to a straight line between the operator and the drone. The drone may have moved far enough away that it is not visible to the Mk.1 eyeball, but there may still be an unimpeded direct line between the operator and the drone that could be used for control (e.g. radio).
'Surely "visual line of sight" is redundant, yes?'
In the context of controlling drones, the key part here is visual, which means that you can see the drone with your eyes. However, whilst you may have control Line-of-Sight to a drone, via its RC link, or in this case via 3G, you may not be able to see it with your eyes because it might be foggy, raining or snowing, or simply because it's night and too dark.
Not an issue for general Aviation congestion then, no pilot wants near them anyway, so an ideal application.
There are also ingenious "robots" that can crawl the live grid cables and others that can add fibre to them. Electricity Network operators seem to be creative geniuses. At college I foolishly thought it would be too boring, not realising:
1) It's not.
2) You get to change job too often and have too much pressure on the
leading bleeding edge of tech.
Too late to change my mind now.
I would assume that apart from checking that foliage is not getting too close and for physical damage, it also uses thermal imaging to check for high-resistance joints etc. A great deal of money is spent by utility companies on regular inspections of cables and pipelines by helicopter, so this method should save a fair bit as well.
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