Among the many difficulties facing engineers when upgrading existing distribution
lines or designing new lines the landscape often provides its share of challenges to
overcome. Upon the commencement of each project or prospecting exercise up-to-
date spatial information is the key to efficient and accurate analysis and decision
making. Ground surveying is often difficult and costly and made more demanding by
the fluid nature of route design caused by topographic or political obstacles. Satellite
imagery and mapping may be timely but the accuracy will not be sufficient for the
design stages. Airborne laser scanning (a.k.a. Airborne LiDAR) provides an in-
between solution suitable for medium to large scale projects.
Aerial surveying is widely accepted as a means of fast and accurate data acquisition
and permits applications from phase one route selection through to detailed design of
new or upgraded networks. Equipment such as LiDAR with integrated camera
systems enable very accurate, very detailed surveying but also has its limitations.
This paper reports on the techniques and challenges of airborne laser scanning,
outlining the major benefits while identifying certain issues.
The paper then explains a couple of practicable applications where an experienced
line designer has used LiDAR data to achieve accurate computer line modelling
analysis. One application describes the effective use of LiDAR in a new line
establishment process. The other application describes a process where LiDAR is
effectively used to create an accurate model of an existing line where clearance
violations are found and mitigated or where an increased electrical loading is desired
for the line and legal clearance requirements are analysed.
-Jeremy Neilson, and Edward Hardie
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