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ABB Unveils World’s First Submersible Transformer Inspection Drone

Energy & Utilities

ABB Unveils World’s First Submersible Transformer Inspection Drone

ABB Unveils World’s First Submersible Transformer Inspection Drone


ABB’s free-swimming robot that redefines transformer inspection services received the 2019 ‘Power Product of the Year’ award.

ABB was honoured with an Electrical Review Excellence award for its ABB Ability™ inspection for transformers – TXplore™ on May 30, 2019. Electrical Review is the leading electrical industry publication in the UK.

Receiving the award on behalf of ABB was Richard Holliday, ABB UK Market Manager for Transformers, who said, “TXplore™ is just one element within ABB’s developing portfolio of products and services that provide our customers with sophisticated digital maintenance and asset management capabilities to deliver a complete real-time picture of how their critical assets are performing.”

BB Ability™ TXplore™

BB Ability™ TXplore™

Richard further commented, “We are delighted to have won this award from Electrical Review. It is the culmination of an intense development effort and is a powerful confirmation from the industry of the potential of TXplore™ to redefine transformer inspections.”

The judging panel was lead by the erudite and highly-respected industry figure – Prof. Ian F. Bitterlin, Consulting Engineer and Visiting Professor at University of Leeds, was highly impressed by the capability of TXplore™ to make transformer inspection a much safer activity while also boosting asset availability for power grid operators.

Monitoring and diagnostic technology for power transformers has seen major advances yet there are instances when an internal inspection becomes necessary. Power transformers have complex internal systems that degrade over time. As a consequence, it may be necessary to inspect the internal components for signs of abnormal operation. The conventional approach requires an outage lasting three or more days while the oil is drained to enable a technician to climb inside the unit. Following a successful inspection, the transformer must then be refilled before re-starting operation.

The new TXplore™ service on the other hand uses a free-swimming submersible robot to capture images and video and transmit them via a wireless connection. This means that the oil stays in place throughout the procedure; there is no requirement of draining the oil or sending a technician into the oily, sensitive and hazardous interior. Not only is this much safer, the transformer is usually returns to service the same or next day.

ABB Ability TXplore, the world’s first submersible transformer inspection robot accomplishes an internal inspection examining the structure of the transformer without the need to remove the oil and send an inspector into the confined space of a power transformer.

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "ABB Unveils World’s First Submersible Transformer Inspection Drone," in, July 1, 2019,

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