AN Oxfordshire Formula One company is designing a robot to inspect power lines.

Engineers at Williams in Grove are helping build the android inspector for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, which manages lines across Oxfordshire.

The companies say it will be the 'first live overhead line inspection robot to be used on SSEN’s high voltage electricity networks'.

The robot, which will navigate its own route as it moves from overhead line to overhead line, is being designed by Williams Advanced Engineering - a sister company to Williams F1 which adapts racing car technology for commercial projects.

Williams business development director Iain Wight said: "This is an exciting project for Williams Advanced Engineering.

"The capabilities that we have are applicable across industry and our team is delighted to be able to apply them to the energy sector with SSEN.

"As demand increases for more and more reliable power, not least to power electric vehicles where we are helping lead the way to a more sustainable future, it is essential that we take every step to secure supply and costs."

The power company said the robots would enable its teams to carry out the essential work safely whilst the power remains live, helping deliver greater efficiencies and improved network reliability without the need for network outages, while keeping personnel safe.

Funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, the LISAS (Line Inspection by Semi-Autonomous Systems) project will be the first time a 'highly-autonomous' robot will be used to inspect electricity networks in the UK.

SSEN head of innovation Stewart Reid said: "The use of robotics to help us inspect and maintain our network has the potential to provide enormous benefits to our customers, from improvements in safety and reliability to reduced costs."