04 Sep Drones in the Electric/Energy Sector
Drones in the Electric Utility/Energy Sector – Drone Operators Charlotte
Since sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems) has begun to spread to commercial sectors, we are just now beginning to see the infinite possibilities they afford us. UAVs and drones are becoming an important part of our lives, with electric utilities being one of the many industries that can benefit significantly from them. Let’s take a look at how electric utility companies can benefit from the aerial technology and also the problems the industry faces as of now.
What has the Research shown so far?
Based on research carried out by the EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), evidence suggests that drones can be equipped with data gathering equipment and cameras to analyze damage caused to power lines by natural disasters such as tornados and hurricanes.
Here are a few advantages drones provide to the industry to assess damages:
- Provides relevant information on faults occurring in power lines
- Precise assessment on damage sustained by power lines
- Provides accurate information on the whereabouts of damage
Such information will allow electric utility companies to timely disperse the repair crew, resulting in power restoration within a shorter period of time.
Systems Tested by the EPRI
So far only two systems have been tested by the EPRI; the Flight Hornet Maxi and the Aeryon Scout. Both commonly feature the rotary wing systems. What is interesting, though, is that both systems were effective at capturing high resolution pictures of specific components causing fault along with the origin of the problem.
Problems Preventing Drone Usage in the Field
Firstly, determining the correct combination of payload and aircraft is difficult. This problem mainly rises because the process of integrating all information collected is complex to say the least.
Secondly, a seamless interface that synchronizes with utility information does not exist. Crew members are mostly not on par with development of the technology as well, making it difficult for them to analyze and understand data.
Lastly, private firms and government agencies alike need a special permit to fly drones. Even though the FAA has made it easier to fly drones legally, the dangers associated with using them for operations related to electric utilities still pose a threat to the general population. But it is only a matter of time before electric utility companies start taking advantage of drones to maintain and provide continuous power supply to their customers.
In conclusion, the rise of drone operators in Charlotte and in major cities bears witness to the fact that drones are the way of the future, and they could quite possibly lead to new horizons unlike anything that has been seen before.