Reduction of wildfire hazard by automated monitoring of vegetation interference with power lines: point cloud analysis combined with cable mechanics


Vegetation interference with power lines is one of the most common causes of electrical outages of distribution systems and have a high potential of causing vast wildfires when combined with dry and hot weather under high wind conditions. The paper highlights the results of a case study of an approach using automated monitoring of vegetation and degree of its interference with power lines. It is based on the utilization of the so-called point clouds, which can be collected by terrestrial or airborne laser scanners or generated from stereoscopic images taken by drones. The approach allows the estimation of the location of the power lines in space and also allows the identification of the location of vegetation in the vicinity of the power lines. Sequential repetitive collections of the point cloud and its analysis allows us to automate the monitoring of vegetative growth and the quantification of the volume of vegetation to be removed to reduce or eliminate the hazard. In addition, the estimated shapes of the power lines are checked against the physically possible shapes to estimate their interference with large tree branches (for example, if a large branch with a lot of vegetation is resting on the power line). The advantages of the approach are presented in a case study of two typical power lines.

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For the distribution power lines, Sensor Fusion and Monitoring Technologies, LLC provided a laser scanner, which is greatly appreciated. The point cloud of the 115-kV transmission line was collected during operations of the nees@berkeley laboratory, the University of California–Berkeley that was funded by the National Science Foundation.


The point cloud of the 115-kV transmission line was collected during operations of the nees@berkeley laboratory, the University of California–Berkeley in 2014 (Award No NEES-4101-31870), which was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Shakhzod M. Takhirov.

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Takhirov, S.M., Israilov, M.S. Reduction of wildfire hazard by automated monitoring of vegetation interference with power lines: point cloud analysis combined with cable mechanics. J Civil Struct Health Monit 10, 947–956 (2020).

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  • Power lines
  • Wildfire prevention
  • Vegetation interference
  • Automated monitoring
  • Laser scanning
  • Cable mechanics
  • Point cloud