Toward automated power line corridor monitoring using advanced aircraft control and multisource feature fusion



The conventional manual power line corridor inspection processes that are used by most energy utilities are labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive. Remote sensing technologies represent an attractive and cost-effective alternative approach to these monitoring activities. This paper presents a comprehensive investigation into automated remote sensing–based power line corridor monitoring, focusing on recent innovations in the area of increased automation of fixed-wing platforms for aerial data collection and automated data processing for object recognition using a feature fusion process. Airborne automation is achieved by using a novel approach that provides improved lateral control for tracking corridors and automatic real-time dynamic turning for flying between corridor segments; we call this approach PTAGS (Power line Tracking Automatic Guidance System). Improved object recognition is achieved by fusing information from multisensor (LiDAR and imagery) data and multiple visual feature descriptors (color and texture). The results from our experiments and field survey illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed aircraft control and feature fusion approaches. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.