Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) are a quickly evolving technology disrupting conventions in a variety of fields. This report investigates the current environment of distribution line inspections and the situation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Included is a review of UAV platforms, cameras, sensors, and software. The current state of distribution line inspections is assessed, and UAV based distribution line inspections are compared and contrasted with traditional inspection methods. Specifically, UAV inspections of distribution lines are evaluated on a cost, speed, and efficiency basis. Other benefits and risks of using UAVs for these inspections are explored, including geographic considerations, privacy, and data. The current UAV ecosystem is reviewed, and future technological advancements are outlined. This includes a review of artificial intelligence and machine learning as they relate to UASs. Additionally, UAV regulations are analyzed as they pertain to both Canada and the United States, including current regulations regarding Beyond Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) flight and flight over people and moving vehicles. Furthermore, conducted trials are analyzed and a sample of current UAV inspection programs for distribution lines reviewed.
UAV, UAS, Drone, Distribution Line, Inspections, Asset Management, Utilities