2.4 GHz LoRa Communication for Drones4Energy

The Drones4Energy Project

Develco participates in the 3 years research project Drones4Energy aimed at developing a collaborative, autonomous and continuously operating drone system together with University of Southern Denmark, Fraunhofer, Geopartner Inspections, Sciences Ventures Denmark, and Aarhus University and with support from Innovation Fund Denmark.

The challenge in electricity supply is the present inspection of several thousand kilometers of overhead cables once a year either by drones or by helicopters resulting in limitations of the flying time, inspection accuracy, and coverage area. The purpose of the Drones4Energy project is to ensure a more stable electricity supply from energy companies and utilities with the correct maintenance of the power grid.

Develco’s contribution to the project is the development of a wireless inter-drone communication system.

Reliable Inter-Drone Communication

Develco has developed a robust wireless inter-drone communication technology based on a communication module supporting wireless mesh using 2.4 GHz LoRa which is ideal for long range data transmissions in harsh wireless environments.

A team of 4 drones will communicate with each other and exchange data in a reliable way, as the communication module has a separate microcontroller with advanced software supporting encrypted message exchange and thus meeting the important cybersecurity demands in our digitized world.

The drones receive weather data in order to fly only in good weather for inspection of the power cables.

The camera on the drones can zoom in and take high quality pictures of leakages and breakages of the powerline cables and with intelligent image processing the drones can detect faults at an early stage to avoid more serious faults or breakdown of the power grid.

The drones connect themselves to the high voltage cables and charge their batteries so that they can continuously inspect the power cables and detect malfunctions on the distribution system.

With the wireless inter-drone LoRa communication system developed by Develco the drones can connect to the internet and give powerline operators the possibility to receive inspection data of the power grid accurately, frequently, and autonomously.

PRODUCT FACTS

  • 2.4 GHz radio
  • Modulation: LoRa®, FLRC, (G)FSK
  • Range more than 6 km with a data rate of 20,3 Kb/s
  • ARM® Cortex® -M3, 128 kbyte FLASH and 32 kbyte SRAM
  • High receiver sensitivity for increased robustness and long-range communication
  • Raspberry Pi HAT compatible
  • No duty cycle restrictions
  • USB interface
  • Host controller interface for easy configuration and control
  • Support for AES encrypted message exchange
  • Bootloader