Remote sensing methods for power line corridor surveys

Leena Matikainen*, Matti Lehtomäki, Eero Ahokas, Juha Hyyppä, Mika Karjalainen, Anttoni Jaakkola, Antero Kukko, Tero Heinonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

283 Citations (Scopus)


To secure uninterrupted distribution of electricity, effective monitoring and maintenance of power lines are needed. This literature review article aims to give a wide overview of the possibilities provided by modern remote sensing sensors in power line corridor surveys and to discuss the potential and limitations of different approaches. Monitoring of both power line components and vegetation around them is included. Remotely sensed data sources discussed in the review include synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images, optical satellite and aerial images, thermal images, airborne laser scanner (ALS) data, land-based mobile mapping data, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data. The review shows that most previous studies have concentrated on the mapping and analysis of network components. In particular, automated extraction of power line conductors has achieved much attention, and promising results have been reported. For example, accuracy levels above 90% have been presented for the extraction of conductors from ALS data or aerial images. However, in many studies datasets have been small and numerical quality analyses have been omitted. Mapping of vegetation near power lines has been a less common research topic than mapping of the components, but several studies have also been carried out in this field, especially using optical aerial and satellite images. Based on the review we conclude that in future research more attention should be given to an integrated use of various data sources to benefit from the various techniques in an optimal way. Knowledge in related fields, such as vegetation monitoring from ALS, SAR and optical image data should be better exploited to develop useful monitoring approaches. Special attention should be given to rapidly developing remote sensing techniques such as UAVs and laser scanning from airborne and land-based platforms. To demonstrate and verify the capabilities of automated monitoring approaches, large tests in various environments and practical monitoring conditions are needed. These should include careful quality analyses and comparisons between different data sources, methods and individual algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-31
Number of pages22
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Laser scanning
  • Lidar
  • Power line
  • Review
  • Satellite/aerial image
  • UAV


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