UAV line installation over inaccessible slope

WA, Construction and engineering - Other

In December 2015 the IT Services team looking after BHP's Mount Whaleback mine had a problem- they urgently needed to install a fibre-optic cable, but it needed to span 300m across a steep inaccessible slope in the middle of an active mining area. Walking down the slope wasn't an option, and the presence of high voltage power lines and a communications tower meant that a helicopter wouldn't get in there. At the request of BHP we undertook some field testing to demonstrate our electro-magnetic payload system, and showed that our SkyJib X4 UAV could handle deploying 300m of heavy fishing line under tension, and remotely drop the end of the line where it was required. The installation area on the mine was in close proximity to high voltage power-lines and critical communications infrastructure including towers and fibre optic cables. It was also adjacent to an active haul road, ROM pad and crusher bins which could not be disrupted. In conjunction with BHP staff and contractors involved in the project we undertook a full risk assessment for the flight operations, and developed a comprehensive flight plan and clear directions for all personnel present during the flight to manage the hazards. The actual flight and installation was undertaken without incident on the first attempt. The X4 maneuvered around the infrastructure at the top of the slope and then established tension on the line before heading down and across the slope. The X4 flew around and behind the personnel at the bottom tower so that it was never directly above them. The low point in the line was then lowered until they could get hold of it and tie it off. Once the line was tied-off the end attached to the UAV was remotely released, and the UAV returned to the launch site. The project team then used this fishing line to pull up a rope, which was then used to winch up the fibre-optic cable. Onboard footage was recorded and is available below. Unfortunately we are not able to show the release of the line at the end of the installation due to our clients request. Get in touch if you'd like to find out how we can help you with installing power, communication or lifting lines, or install any equipment in hard to reach places.

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