- Taipower collaborated with Taiwan Intelligent Robotics Company to jointly developed the first MIT inspection robot- "WATT•E" of Taipower.
The "WATT•E" of Taipower makes contribution to the stabilization of power supply! In response to digital transformation, Taipower has promoted "smart inspection" and developed the super cute inspection robot called "WATT•E". The robot can perform regular inspections for outdoor substations throughout the year regardless of the weather conditions, making it the toughest employee of Taipower! "WATT•E" has this nickname because it looks like "WALL-E", the robot in the animated film produced by Pixar. After "WATT•E" is in service, it not only shortens the time of inspections carried out by traditional personnel, but also greatly improves the inspection efficiency. In the future, Taipower will continue to accumulate experience in the use of robots and extend it to other areas, providing smart and diverse power services.
- While WATT•E is moving according to the set travel route, operator can check the equipment through the eyes and ears of WATT•E, and the collected footages can be sent back to the central control room, allowing the personnel of Taipower to know the conditions of the site in real time.
Taipower explained that substation is an important facility for voltage conversion. If the equipment of substation fails, it may lead to power outages and substantial losses for tens of thousands of households. Therefore, even if the weather is unpleasant and the location of the substation is far away, it is still necessary to send personnel to carry out inspections regularly. Taipower has been promoting the R&D projects of inspection robot since 2017, and collaborated with Taiwan Intelligent Robotics Company, winner of the International Innovation Award, to jointly develop the first MIT inspection robot, serving to stabilize power supply and improve the safety of personnel.
WATT•E has been stationed in Wanhua Secondary Substation Since March of this year (2021). It will carry out two inspections of 20 minutes each according to the inspection schedule arranged by the central control room every day, checking the safety of equipment such as capacitors, main transformers. According to Taipower, the left and right eyes of WATT•E are visible light and infrared thermal image sensing modules, respectively, and the ears are composed of two rows of microphones. While WATT•E is moving according to the set travel route, operators can check the equipment through the eyes and ears of WATT•E. Furthermore, the collected footages can be sent back to the central control room, allowing the personnel of Taipower to know the conditions of the site in real time, so that maintenance staff can be dispatched accordingly to greatly improve work efficiency.
- WATT•E has been stationed in Wanhua Secondary Substation Since March of this year. Taipower also built an exclusive charging garage for WATT•E.
- WATT•E will check the safety of capacitors and main transformers according to the inspection schedule arranged by the central control room every day.
The eye of WATT•E with visible-light module is capable of performing 10× zooming and high-resolution image capturing, allowing operator to quickly recognize the on-site conditions, said Taipower. As for the other eye with infrared thermal imaging module, it is capable of delivering an image quality that is 4 times clearer than the image quality of the thermal imaging device used for epidemic prevention, allowing personnel to identify the temperature of equipment and wire junctions that are unable to be determined by the naked eyes, and report them the central control center immediately to avoid large-scale power outages caused by equipment failure. In order to collect enough audio data that enable WATT•E to identify the sound of equipment failure automatically, the ears of WATT•E consist of 6 microphones, with 4 in the front and 2 at the back. The front microphones mainly receive audio from equipment such as transformers, while the rear microphones record the audio of the surrounding environment, serving as the basis for data analysis and abnormality identification.
Moreover, in responding to the distribution of ramps and equipment in the substation, WATT•E is equipped with a Tesla-grade 3D LiDAR optical radar sensor that is essential for self-driving cars, which can display real-time 3D images of the surrounding within the distance of 100 meters away, improving the stability of positioning and navigation. In the future, WATT•E can also perform operation in different substations; it only takes about 1 hour to model and conduct autonomous inspections. Taipower also pointed out that since the ground in substations are mainly paved with gravel, it took a lot of effort to set the positioning/navigation and obstacle avoidance functions of WATT•E during its development to overcome the problem. Now, WATT•E can walk freely on gravel road, road with height difference of less than 5 cm or even ramps.
- The eye of WATT•E with visible-light module can quickly identify the environmental conditions of the site, while the other eye with infrared thermal imaging module can check the temperature of equipment and wire junctions, and report them the central control center immediately.
In recent years, Taipower has adopted "smart inspection" operations. In addition to replacing traditional manpower inspections with drones, on-site maintenance personnel can also use mixed-reality (MR) wearable glasses to better understand the condition of on-site equipment remotely and conduct online maintenance guidance to effectively improve work efficiency and power supply reliability. Furthermore, Taipower also uses virtual reality (VR) technology to simulate different climate conditions and operating environments for industrial safety training, strengthening the safety awareness of personnel from the source. In the future, Taipower also plans to expand the application of robots to the inspection of extra high-voltage cables in power transmission and supply systems, as well as the monitoring of temperature for equipment in the power plant, contributing more efforts to the stabilization of power supply.
Spokesperson： Professional Chief Administrator, Ting-Shu Zhang
Contact Person：Director of Department of Power Distribution, Ming-Shu Chen