Power line inspection and maintenance already benefit from developments in mobile robotics. This paper presents a comprehensive review of the state of the art. It focuses on mobile robots designed to cross obstacles found on a typical transmission line while using the conductor as support for traveling. Promising areas of research and development as well as challenges that remain to be solved are discussed with a view to developing fully autonomous technologies. Maintenance tasks, including inspection and repairs, are identified as high-value applications in transmission live-line work. Conclusions are drawn from experience, and the future of mobile robotics applied to transmission line maintenance is discussed. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.