Iberdrola uses a springer spaniel at the solar farm to sniff out electrical problems that could lead to blackouts. It also uses a robotic dog to detect and analyze substation faults.
Spanish energy company Iberdrola is using a real dog and a robotic dog to detect faults in one of its ground-mounted solar power plants.
A real dog uses its sense of smell to detect problems in the power grid that can lead to power outages. It was trained to troubleshoot by technicians from ScottishPower, Iberdrola’s UK subsidiary. The company claims that it was 100% successful in the test carried out in December.
“Not only has it found all the problems it was prepared for, but it has also found some that it wasn’t expected to find,” Iberdrola said, noting that the dog saves time and eliminates unnecessary work by helping to fix defects as quickly as possible. “The training of the dog is not a coincidence, as it is part of a pilot project that combines other measures that the company has planned to cope with the country’s severe weather.”
In addition to the services of a real dog, Iberdrola also uses a robot dog at the solar power plant. The device has a built-in thermal vision system that produces thermal reports on the condition of various solar plant components as it walks between rows of panels along a programmed route. According to the developer of the robot – Boston Dynamics from the United States – the big advantage of robotic legs is that they are independent of the terrain.
Iberdrola says that the robot dog can detect and analyze faults in substations.
“This little technical assistant has several advantages,” it explained. “On the one hand, it takes high-resolution images, which it compares with previously taken images, which enables the detection of changes in infrastructures that are beyond the reach of the human eye.”
The company added that the robot is capable of collecting large amounts of data, which could help it increase the number of inspections it performs each year.
Boston Dynamics sold its first robot dog in 2020 for $74,500. So far it has been used in various industries for a wide variety of applications. Initially, the robot dog was used to inspect the construction of tunnels in active infrastructure, according to the US manufacturer.