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To monitor the running conditions and find out the damages of the power grids, the robotic technologies have been applied to conduct the inspection tasks of power transmission lines (PTLs) instead of worker or helicopter. Supported by the national high technology research and development program of China from 2002, the state key laboratory of robotics, Shenyang institute of automation, Chinese academy of sciences (SIACAS), has been focusing on the development of the inspection robot for 500kV extra high voltage (EHV) PTLs. Up to now, three generations of the inspection robot prototypes have been developed. In this paper, an overview of the research for these prototypes by SIACAS is given. Then, two latest developments which include a PTLs inspection robot and an insulator detection robot are introduced, respectively. The key technologies such as mechanism, control system, and operation modes, are described in detail. Field experimental results show that the robot prototypes can carry out the practical inspection tasks for 500kV EHV PTLs.