Robust Powerline Equipment Inspection System Based on a Convolutional Neural Network

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Nov 8;18(11):3837. doi: 10.3390/s18113837.


Electric power line equipment such as insulators, cut-out-switches, and lightning-arresters play important roles in ensuring a safe and uninterrupted power supply. Unfortunately, their continuous exposure to rugged environmental conditions may cause physical or electrical defects in them which may lead to the failure to the electrical system. In this paper, we present an automatic real-time electrical equipment detection and defect analysis system. Unlike previous handcrafted feature-based approaches, the proposed system utilizes a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN)-based equipment detection framework, making it possible to detect 17 different types of powerline insulators in a highly cluttered environment. We also propose a novel rotation normalization and ellipse detection method that play vital roles in the defect analysis process. Finally, we present a novel defect analyzer that is capable of detecting gunshot defects occurring in electrical equipment. The proposed system uses two cameras; a low-resolution camera that detects insulators from long-shot images, and a high-resolution camera which captures close-shot images of the equipment at high-resolution that helps for effective defect analysis. We demonstrate the performances of the proposed real-time equipment detection with up to 93% recall with 92% precision, and defect analysis system with up to 98% accuracy, on a large evaluation dataset. Experimental results show that the proposed system achieves state-of-the-art performance in automatic powerline equipment inspection.

Keywords: computer vision; convolutional neural networks; cut-out-switches; deep learning; defect analysis; electrical safety; ellipse detection; gunshot damage; insulators; powerline equipment.