Engineers Merge Technologies Used to Inspect Wooden Power Poles

Engineers working to improve wooden power poles

ECE and GTRI researchers are creating a remote inspection system that analyzes wooden crossarms from the air.

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Researchers from ECE and the Georgia Tech Research Institute are merging two technologies that are expected to reduce costs and increase the accuracy of inspecting millions of wooden crossarms that hold up power lines worldwide.

Susceptible to rot, wooden crossarms must be inspected and replaced periodically, or otherwise lines could collapse and cause outages. Such inspections have traditionally required workers to climb poles, hit the crossarm with a hammer and judge its condition by listening to the resulting ring. But these manual inspections are imprecise, time-consuming, costly, and hazardous.

Now, researchers have merged laser vibrometry and neural networks to create a remote inspection system that analyzes crossarms from the air. The team includes ECE Professor Ron Harley, NEETRAC research engineer Paul Springer, and GTRI research engineer Jim Mahaffey.

Last revised August 1, 2017