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iKingtech bestows “wings” to transform power grid inspections

Written by KrASIA Connection Published on   3 mins read

iKingtec is aiming to redefine precision and safety in maintenance workflows with its drones, amid rising opportunities in China’s power grid sector.

Drones have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, extending beyond aerial photography and express delivery to make a substantial impact in agriculture, plant protection, surveying, and power inspection.

At the 24th East Asia and Western Pacific Power Industry Association (APPEA) Conference, iKingtec, a pioneer in manufacturing smart drones for industrial applications, showcased a range of cutting-edge fully autonomous drone inspection systems. These systems exemplified the diverse applications of drones in power inspection.

Established in 2017, iKingtec has secured nearly RMB 10 billion (USD 1.39 billion) through eight funding rounds. It stands as a high-tech enterprise, leveraging artificial intelligence and four-dimensional holographic real-world maps. Their solutions integrate industrial drones, hub automation technology, ground robots, and an internet-of-things cloud platform, setting benchmarks for national grid projects.

Power line inspection, historically an arduous task, relied on manual foot patrols until 2019. In challenging environments like deserts and remote mountains, manual inspections were not only labor-intensive and inefficient but also posed significant safety risks.

Substituting human efforts with drones in power grid inspection equates to giving maintenance a pair of wings, transforming it into a “flying” operation. This not only enhances efficiency but also enables the discovery of defects using visible light, infrared, multispectral, and laser radar—challenges for human patrols.

Drones, seemingly simple, involve a deep integration of software technologies like digital twins, artificial intelligence algorithms, IoT, and 5G edge-cloud fusion. Hardware technologies include carbon fiber materials, semi-solid batteries, insulation coating, and AI chips.

Despite drone applications in power grid inspection still being in early stages, iKingtec’s drones promise fully autonomous operations without human intervention, planning flight paths and changing sensors automatically. They offer users fully autonomous inspection capabilities, realizing true unmanned data collection and unattended operation.

The realization of fully autonomous inspection is enabled by iKingtec’s “integration of machine-network-cloud” one-stop solution, developed in-house, distinguishing it from companies that piece together hardware, hangars, and software from different sources.

“Some drone companies buy hardware machines from Company A, hangars from Company B, and software written by Company C. They put them together to serve customers, which cannot meet the customized needs of customers and is slower to respond,” said Zhu Shengli, co-founder and CMO of iKingtec.

iKingtec’s drone applications extend beyond grid scenes to new energy generation, including photovoltaic and wind power stations, energy storage stations like pumped storage, and adapt to complex environments such as mountainous and forested areas, extreme heat, and extreme cold.

At the recent APPEA conference, iKingtec introduced a “new power operation and maintenance system” oriented toward “source-network-load-storage.” This system monitors and maintains the entire power chain, from power generation to the power grid, electricity use, and finally storage.

In the “source-network-load-storage” chain, entities have varying drone equipment requirements in terms of size, accuracy, endurance, and sensor types. iKingtec meets these diverse needs through comprehensive product development.

As China’s large power grid construction nears completion, digital grids, smart grids, and new power systems replace traditional grid construction, forming new growth areas. During the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, the State Grid Corporation of China plans to invest approximately RMB 2.23 trillion (USD 313.35 billion) to transform and upgrade power grid systems. The China Southern Power Grid’s construction plan will invest about RMB 670 billion (USD 94.15 billion), with combined investments exceeding RMB 2.9 trillion (USD 407.5 billion).

KrASIA Connection features translated and adapted content that was originally published by 36Kr. This article was written by Wang Fangyu for 36Kr.


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