Are Maintenance Workers In China Using Drones With Flamethrowers To Clean Power Lines?

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There’s probably no reasonable-sounding way to start this article off, so I’ll just begin by asking the question: Are maintenance workers in China using flamethrower-equipped drones to clean power lines?

As I don’t speak Chinese, I’m just going to have to take second-hand reports at face value here. It appears the approach is now being trialled there.

I suppose that the idea isn’t as strange as it sounds at first when you really think about it. While there are some potential dangers probably inherent in such an approach, there clearly are dangers involved with sending a guy on a ladder up there to remove the trash “by hand” as well.

Take a look (an image is sometimes worth a thousand words, and a video or two …):

Here’s an explanation of what we’re seeing as explained by The Verge:

“I have no idea where these images were captured, other than in Xiangyang, Hubei Province of China, and I have no clue under what pretenses this situation occurred. It certainly seems like a testing scenario, but one of the image’s captions say ‘a technician from a electric power maintenance company use the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to clean the high-voltage wire in Xiangyang.’ I guess that answers some questions.”

How is this cleantech? Well, trash on electricity lines reduces efficiency of electricity transfer, thus wasting energy. If using drones means more quickly removing the trash, that could save energy. However … one has to wonder how much energy the drone + flamethrower use versus how much they save.

Overall, it’s an innovative approach, I guess. Though, I do have to wonder a bit about all of the other possible uses of flamethrower-equipped drones. Some of them certainly aren’t pretty. With that in mind, though, I wonder if we’ll ever see drones used on a large scale for firefighting efforts?

Photos by Wang Hu / VCG

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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