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Automatic drones and inspection on electrical substations

Power grid operators operate and maintain an increasing base of critical infrastructure including electrical substations. SINTEF has developed methods for autonomous drones which could in the future contribute to asset management.

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Photo: Thomas Negård

Testing of novel prototype solution for autonomous drones

With Statnett as a client and forward-leaning infrastructure operator, SINTEF has teamed up with Norwegian drone technology and service providers KVS Technologies (now: Field Group), and Nordic Unmanned to develop and test a novel prototype solution for autonomous and remotely operated inspection missions with resident drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) on electrical substations.

The prototype solution comprised of

  1. an autonomous drone with sense & avoid and harsh weather capability
  2. a drone hangar for remote operations
  3. drone operations management software.

The project was led by KVS Technologies, and the further responsibilities in the project were divided as follows:

  • KVS Technologies (now: Field Group): Drone payload, drone hangar and operations management software.
  • Nordic Unmanned: Drone design and implementation.
  • SINTEF: Drone autonomy (localization, collision avoidance and path planning, as well as testing of the drone in a high-voltage environment.

Results and learnings

More information about the results and learnings from the project can be found in this scientific paper published in 2021:

An autonomous drone-based system for inspection of electrical substations. In the paper, you will also find a discussion about the possibilities and challenges that such a system offers, and find an overview of requirements that are key to realizing the potential of drones for improved asset management.

Key Factors

Project duration

2017 - 2019



Cooperation partners

KVS Technologies (now: Field Group), Nordic Unmanned

Project type

Industry project