Beijing sub-center uses robots to ensure power supply

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As the Spring Festival draws near, the power supply capabilities of Beijing's sub-center will face its first test. The sub-center's power supply company has started extensive maintenance and inspection of more than 1,000 smart monitor terminals to ensure power supply during the holidays, and the inspection is assisted by robots - smart inspection robots, automated firefighters, and an automatic inspection car.

The smart inspection robot has two cameras as its eyes that can inspect and monitor cables inside the power houses in real time. Once it detects problems such as high temperature or partial discharge in the cables, it will immediately report them to the integrated visualization system in the Tongzhou Power Supply Company for further automatic diagnosis. 

The automated firefighters act like the smart inspection robot's partner. If the temperature of the cables is too high or fire happens, the firefighters will release dry chemical and put out the fire even prior to the arrival of human inspectors. 

At least 80 percent of the inspection work inside the power tunnel is replaced by the two kinds of robots, but human inspectors are still needed to guarantee absolute safety. 

In the tunnel, the automatic inspection car is also an important assistant. The 80-centimeter-wide and two-seat vehicle without a steering wheel can run automatically following the yellow lines and carry 500 kilograms of weight. It carries human inspectors and heavy equipment back and forth for the inspection in the 1.9-kilometer tunnel, saving a lot of time and energy for the inspection. During the first-phase construction of the smart integrated tunnel in the sub-center, 10 robots and two inspection cars have been put into use. 

According to Ma Wenying, safety director of the Tongzhou Power Supply Company, this is the first Spring Festival that the smart grid will be tested. Apart from the inspection of over 1,000 monitor terminals, the company has also started maintenance of robots and in-depth inspection of equipment, signal transmission and power systems.

"To guarantee the power supply for this year's Spring Festival, we have applied intelligent tools such as the integrated visualization system and mobile operating apps to manage six major items including inspection and maintenance," Ma said. "Both machine and human operating processes are made transparent, potential safety risks are detected and eliminated beforehand, and the on-site operation is tracked in real time. We have improved the efficiency of the grid as well as the power supply service to bring a safe and peaceful Spring Festival to citizens in the sub-center."

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