Optimal Path Planning for Drone Inspections of Linear Infrastructures
Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Geographical Information Systems Theory, Applications and Management
Autonomous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights represent a huge opportunity in the drone industry due to their ability to monitor larger areas. Autonomous navigation and path planning are essential capabilities for BVLOS flights. In this paper, we introduce the routing component of a path planning system for inspecting linear infrastructures. We explore both a direct algorithm and a transformation algorithm. The direct algorithm is an extension of A* to allow limited routing through air
... routing through air as well as the use of non-logic intersections. The transformation algorithm pre-computes a graph that include edges for routing through air and nodes for non-logic intersections. We implemented both algorithms for routing along a particular type of linear infrastructure, power lines, and validated them through an empirical evaluation at three different scales: the Danish power grid, the French power grid, and the entire European power grid. The test results show that the transformation algorithm allows for sub-second routing performance for a small-to-medium sized power grid. Larger power grids can be routed in less than five seconds, and even an optimal route of more than six thousand kilometers along linear infrastructures from Portugal to Sweden via Russia is found in less than half a minute. All algorithms have been implemented and are available as an open-source Python package for Linear-infrastructure Mission Control (LiMiC).