Fri, 02 December, 2022
The Greek word ‘enorasis’ suggests that someone has insight or a way of seeing into the future. In turn, the Enorasis project focuses on developing an ‘Integrated Robotic System for Autonomous Inspection and Fault Diagnosis of Electric Power Substations’ in Greece. Since May 2022, the project consortium members, comprising the Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO/ ADMIE), the Institute of Communications and Computer Systems (ICCS), Castalia and TWI Hellas, have joined forces for a significant cause, namely to ensure that electrical power substations function smoothly. More specifically, this Greek-based initiative aims to inspect, detect, diagnose, and facilitate the prompt repair, and improved maintenance, of electric power substations. The project is part of the second cycle of the single RTDI State Aid Action “Research – Create – Innovate” and is funded by the Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (EPAnEK).
So, what could go wrong with electrical power distribution?
A series of unpredictable faults in electrical components, and system failures due to electrical fast transients, are plausible reasons for blackouts in districts around Greece and/or the interruption of the electrical power supply. These occurrences demand a cost-effective, condition-based inspection system that processes inspection data to perform early fault diagnosis. However, IPTO/ADMIE cannot use condition-based monitoring on a regular basis because it is unattainable due to a lack of specialised personnel and the necessary technological advancements that would be required. Therefore, the development of a new, advanced technology to automate inspection and maintenance would enable the achievement of such a system, leading to more optimised operation of electric power substations.
The TWI Hellas team’s role on Enorasis is the development of an autonomous robot that is able to navigate safely through areas of the extra-high voltage centre, where electromagnetic noise can affect the accuracy of specific sensors. By using data fusion techniques to combine information and measurements from multiple sources, the robotic vehicle will be able to pinpoint its position utilising state-of-the-art localisation algorithms. In addition, a teleoperation system for both the robotic vehicle and the integrated camera will be created to increase flexibility, allowing the user to take over. When combined with the construction of 3D light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and appropriate simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, these will generate a 3D map of the electric power substation. The TWI Hellas team is also responsible for the electronics and communications of the motion camera system, and the mechatronics design and implementation of the sensors, as well as the design and manufacture of a docking and a storage station, and finally installation of the robot at the extra-high voltage centre.
Thanasis Mastrogeorgiou, the Senior Robotics Engineer at TWI Hellas responsible for Enorasis, said “The challenging nature of the work requires insight into many fields of robotics including systems design, mechatronics, and advanced software development and control.”
Additionally, Aris Geladaris, a Robotics Engineer also working on the project, explained “The autonomous robot will operate in a human-populated environment, so this adds a number of constraints to the design parameters, and increases the importance of establishing safe and accurate motion.” However, as both of the TWI Hellas experts firmly indicate “Our team has all the skills, knowledge and experience in-house that a project of this complexity requires, and we are excited to be starting work on it very soon.”
The aim of Enorasis is that it will significantly contribute to achieving a 20% reduction in power substations maintenance over the next 15 years, in turn leading to the acquisition of valuable inspection data which will enable a better understanding of failure mechanisms and how to handle them. The long-term objective is a more reliable power grid with fewer electrical failures, and the attendant economic, organisational and data benefits that can result from these.