The Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP) is looking for the development of an algorithm that can identify what particular plant species is causing a fault if a tree branch were to fall onto a powerline.

To achieve this objective, the R&D Fund of PBSP is conducting a Vegetation Detection Challenge competition using the large amount of data collected through the Vegetation Conduction Ignition Testing project.

Currently there is no mechanism that can identify vegetation faults in a timely manner, and more specifically, what type of species of vegetation is touching and causing a fault on a powerline. For example, if a tree or branch touches the line, a device could detect the type of tree and send a message back to the distribution business as to whether there is potential for a fire start e.g. urgent action required, or that the tree is one that poses no risk (such as peppercorn), where in time it should be removed from the line.

If there is the ability to detect species of vegetation touching a powerline, this presents the opportunity to reduce bushfire risk.

All Victorians would benefit from this development, and potentially Australia and world-wide with an algorithm that can be utilised by power companies or manufacturers to detect and alert operational managers to the presence of vegetation on a high-voltage bare-wire powerline.

The Challenge launch briefing session occurred on Tuesday 2 May 2017 with participants attending idea sprint and check-up sessions through June and July 2017. Final presentations are scheduled in October 2017 with notification of the winners and prize money in November 2017.

For more information, email fault.signature@delwp.vic.gov.au