Optus picks AWS to accelerate 5G innovation across Energy Sector

5G Innovations

Optus will collaborate with AWS and Unleash live to deploy a solution that enhances Endeavour Energy’s grid reliability and worker safety

Optus will collaborate with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Inc, an Amazon.com company, and AWS partner Unleash live to create a 5G solution for Australian electricity provider, Endeavour Energy to improve the speed, efficiency, and safety of real-time fault inspections of its electricity grid.

Endeavour Energy’s electricity distribution network spans 47,000km of power lines, 500,000 power poles, and 32,000 substations across Sydney’s Greater West, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra and the South Coast of New South Wales.

Network Infrastructure

On-site inspections are currently conducted by Endeavour Energy’s team of engineers, utilising a large fleet of vehicles, helicopters, and a team of technicians to physically identify and carry out remediation.

The collaboration will leverage a combination of 5G, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), drone technology, and ultra-high definition (UHD) cameras to monitor in real-time the physical state of infrastructure assets on the electricity grid. The solution is designed to keep the electrical supply safe and reliable by identifying where preventative maintenance is needed to improve network safety and avoid costly and unplanned power outages.

The $648,000 project will commence in September 2021 and is being funded by the Australian Federal Government’s latest 5G innovation initiative. The initial trial period will monitor Endeavour Energy’s infrastructure assets across Penrith and Blacktown in New South Wales.

“This is a great example of AWS, Unleash live and Optus coming together with Endeavour Energy to create an ecosystem of innovation that will have a lasting impact across Australia’s critical infrastructure, said Chris Mitchell, Managing Director at Optus Enterprise.

“We want to thank the Australian Federal Government for the critical role they have played in expediting the use of 5G innovation in Australia and look forward to collaborating on a solution for Endeavour Energy that will make keeping the lights on safer and more efficient.”

“Finding a better way to deliver a safe, reliable and sustainable electricity supply is in our DNA. By bringing together new technology with essential infrastructure services we are accelerating the transition to a modern grid and keeping downward pressure on our portion of customers’ electricity bills,” said Endeavour Energy’s Chief Customer and Strategy Officer Leanne Pickering.

Unleash live will leverage AI to analyse video content recorded with UHD cameras mounted on utility vehicles and drones leveraging Optus’ 5G network, the fastest 5G network in Australia1. The solution is set to accelerate network remediation and improve worker safety by remotely alerting Endeavour Energy of faults or damaged equipment on the electricity network that could be difficult for humans to manually identify. Examples of the faults that will be identified include rust damage, missing components, erosion of insulation, and cracks in the metal structure.

Visual insights generated from Unleash live’s platform will notify Endeavour Energy if remediation services need to be administered or equipment needs to be replaced without requiring engineers to undertake on-site inspections.

“The Unleash live enterprise platform is being used today for many applications within the energy industry for improved energy production through faster and more cost effective fault detection at Wind and Solar farms as well as the connected grid,” says Unleash live CEO and co-founder, Hanno Blankenstein. “Power line inspection benefits from the application of AI, improving safety and reducing the cost of maintaining such high value distributed assets.”

Unleash live’s solution will leverage Amazon Kinesis to collect and process large streams of visual data in real-time. The solution also uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud to provide secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud, and Amazon Simple Storage Service to store and retrieve the data.

“By leveraging the unmatched scalability of AWS, Unleash live can ingest and store large volumes of visual data from Endeavour Energy’s electricity network in real-time to enable technicians to make faster decisions and expedite maintenance. We are incredibly excited to collaborate on this project which is designed to improve safety during critical maintenance work and deliver more reliability for Australian energy customers,” said Karl Durrance, Director of Enterprise, AWS Australia Pty Ltd.

Additional Projects

Optus was also successful in the Australian Government grants supporting Spatial Information Systems Research Ltd and Ericsson on a $1.1M project to create a 5G Precise Positioning Testbed that will demonstrate the economic benefits of precise positioning via 3GPP. The project will focus on agricultural and consumer initiatives including drone delivery, augmented reality for safety, farm robotics and remote fertiliser management.

Optus will also support the Brimbank City Council in deploying a mobile 5G-based Internet of Things (IoT) solution that will automate asset condition monitoring and auditing. The solution, valued at $1.1M, will also reduce the time it will take to identify and document all of Brimbank’s road and roadside assets that require maintenance and provide timely information in real time to maintenance crews via an online map with locations of assets that require maintenance.