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AI Case Study

National Grid is testing machine learning to automate assessment of electrical grid infrastructure using drones

National Grid has begun using machine learning to analyse aerial images taken by drones of its electrical infrastructure. The aim is to automate assessment of equipment status and damage, as well as access areas with less intrusion than by using larger aerial vehicles, such as helicopters.




Project Overview

"National Grid has turned to artificial intelligence to help it maintain the wires and pylons that transmit electricity from power stations to homes and businesses across the UK. The firm has been using six drones for the past two years to help inspect its 7,200 miles of overhead lines around England and Wales. Equipped with high-res still, video and infrared cameras, the drones are deployed to assess the steelwork, wear and corrosion, and faults such as damaged conductors." They have "started applying machine learning to analyse the drone footage and cut the volume of material a human operator needs to review. A dozen people are involved in the project, with the AI work only beginning in the past few months."

"The drones, which are made by DJI, are seen as a better option for inspections in areas where livestock might be disturbed by a helicopter or in built-up urban areas where it is hard to fly helicopters at low altitudes."

Reported Results

Results not yet available; however, National Grid chief executive did admit that “The changes are likely to reduce some headcount".


Details undisclosed



Field Services


Electricity delivery infrastructure, such as pylons and wires, have historically required human maintenance and repair workers to inspect them to assess damage.



Images from satellites, drones

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