When designing a substation, engineers have to think about everything. They need to ensure the safety of a substation and need to ensure that at all times they would be able to control any situation that could put substations in danger. However, hurricane weather is one of those 'act-of-god' problems that can't exactly be predicted decades in advance. Therefore, once weather interferes, a different level of safety is exercised. Substation robots.
A utility named FPL, in Florida, have unveiled their substation robots that will ensure power is restored at a quicker rate once a storm hits the state. The robot has a GPS (global positioning system) embedded into it and can be driven by the FPL command center. The robot can travel to the substation, survey the damage and report back to the engineers. The engineers can watch all of its observations through a live-feed from the cameras that are attached to the robot vehicle. The robots are also able to survive getting wet, so they are perfect for during a storm.
Bill Orlove, an FPL spokesperson, spoke to Florida Today, saying: "This is the latest tool that we have in our toolkit to help restore service to our customers when the storm passes." He also says that there are 600 substations in FPL's jurisdictional area and says that the robots would assist restoring power to those hard to reach substations.
The utility also plans to use drones to survey the surrounding areas of substations that may have been damaged by a storm.
"So with the substation robot, that will be pre-deployed so it'll be ready to once we're able to access it, the unmanned aircraft system or drone, that would be in an area where we've seen where there may be some damage, we would send people out there to fly it, it would both save us time and efficiencies, make it more efficient for us," Orlove added.
The novel idea could influence other utilities to follow suit and get their hands on their own drones and robots that could restore power to communities during storms, where sending engineers out is impossible.