A team of scientists from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a prototype system for detecting and geolocating damaged utility poles in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or other major storms, which can be utilized to improve response and recovery efforts.
The system, which is discussed in the journal Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, is designed to run on edge computing hardware mounted on a quadcopter or other types of drones, allowing it to operate when local infrastructure is damaged or inoperable. Researchers utilized machine learning algorithms and onboard imaging hardware to accurately detect and assess damage to utility poles while uploading location information to a central processing hub, called the Environment for Analysis of Geo-Located Energy Information, or EAGLE-I™. This information can be relayed to utility companies, first responders or other groups supporting energy infrastructure. “One of the main drivers of our work is to make a system that can be afforded and run by local and state governments,” said ORNL's David Hughes, the project's principal investigator “So we work with affordable sensors and platforms.” Ultimately, this new computing system will aid utilities and local governments to help improve damage assessment and resource allocation during disaster response. Read more at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.