Cell tower maintenance is one of the most overlooked hazardous jobs out there. Even though the number of employees in this industry is too low, the death rate is too high as compared to any other occupation in the US as reported by OSHA.
This is similar with power lines and other tower climbers. US currently has more than 200K cell towers maintained by thousands of employee and they all risk their lives each time they climb a tower.
But just like many other hazardous jobs that are slowly being replaced by robots (Bomb diffusing, welding, automobile manufacturing, etc.) we might soon see cell tower maintenance in wings of drones (can’t say hands here).
It sounds cool if you think about a flying machine with robotic hands, doing the maintenance high up a tower without the fear of falling and dying. Also, after recently watching the GIF of a drone with flamethrower to burn debris from power lines; thought of tower maintenance drone amazed me a lot.
Video source: Reddit
Keeping that thought in mind, I went to look for patents that might be mentioning something like this. Most of the times I end up finding what I was searching for, more or less relevant, But this time it didn’t turned out as expected. I would not spoil it here, just read on to know what I found.
ETAK systems, a company well known for cell tower installations and using drones in maintenance filed a patent for “USING DRONES TO LIFT PERSONNEL UP CELL TOWERS”. Yes, a drone to take a person high up a cell tower, and bring him back to ground when maintenance is over. What could go wrong? Right?
I would take the stairs instead.
ETAK is quite famous for their drone services for tower imaging and inspections, they are among the superiors in their industry but, their patent seriously got me concerned. Even though drones are getting more and more advanced every day, lifting a person that high to work on tower don’t seem like a good idea, to me at least.
Patents often demonstrates breakthrough solutions to problems but this breakthrough broke through my expectations. You might be thinking that it could be possible in future when our drones become more powerful and reliable. Now to break your expectations too, here’s a picture from ETAK patent itself –
See? It is just a drawing but it gives us a rough idea about what’s going on in their mind. It’s just a chair hanging from a hexacopter, nothing to worry about. Right?
Why not leave a comment to let me know what do you think about it?
Similarly, another company wants to use drones as a taxi. It purposes an idea of making a taxi drone service to take a person one place to another.