firealert_imgThis project aims to develop a prototype system that can initiate warnings to electric utility maintenance personnel if objects (mainly vegetation) approach electric power transmission lines.  Vegetation interference with transmission lines is a significant issue world-wide, especially in dense forest areas. Forest fires caused due to arcing between a high voltage wire and a tree branch are a frequent phenomenon and thus tree and vegetation detection has attracted significant research attention. There are documented blackouts that were initiated by the contact of trees on transmission lines. An example of such an event is the August 14, 2003 blackout in the US and Canada. Detection of objects under transmission lines is a challenging problem because transmission lines typically span hundreds of kilometers, run through rough terrains or through dense forests rendering direct visual inspection difficult, and the discontinuities of the wires at the towers make robotic monitoring devices difficult to implement.

 

In this project, the research team proposes an innovative solution to the problem of the detection of vegetation below transmission lines using wireless sensor network technology.  Each tower will be equipped with a wireless transceiver equipped with a specialized antenna.  When the line of sight (LOS) between two adjacent transceivers is intercepted, or an obstacle appears inside the Fresnel zone (e.g., due to a growing branch) it will cause a drop in the received power which will be detected by the receiver sensor.  The information will be correlated with other sensory information (e.g., weather conditions) in order to avoid possible false alarms and allow the receiver to reliably detect the obstacle.  Once an obstacle is detected, multi-hop communication will be used to send the information to the operations center of the utility company (also referred to as the sink).

 

The aim is to build a system that is cost effective in terms of production, deployment and maintenance.  We point out that transmission lines span a large area, and as a result there are significant requirements that the proposed system should satisfy.  Clearly, it is very important that the system should have a very high obstacle detection probability in order to eliminate the risk of devastating fires.  On the other hand, the system should also have a very low false alarm rate, otherwise a significant cost may be incurred by sending maintenance personnel to the suspected area or may eventually lead the personnel to simply ignore all alarms!  The main result of the project is a prototype application that can be extended into a cost-effective tool in protecting forests from high voltage induced fires. The project facilitates the interaction between academia and industry. It targets a significant international problem such as the security and reliability of the transmission grid, pertaining to the well-being of society both at the national, EU, and international level.

 

Partners:
KIOS Research Center for Intelligent Systems and Networks, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
SignalGeneriX Ltd

 

Project official website here.

 

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This project is funded  under the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation’s Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Innovation 2009 (DESMI 2009), co-funded by the Republic of Cyprus and the European Regional Development Fund, and specifically under  "Development of Research and Innovation in Enterprises" Pillar and the Action "New Products and Services".