The drones are coming.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are getting cheaper and more sophisticated, meaning they could be used soon for storm-damage assessment for utilities.
The utility industry’s research arm, Electric Power Research Institute, released a study today touting the benefits of UAVs for post-storm surveillance.
Researchers at New Mexico State University Flight Center recently used drones with high-resolution cameras to survey power lines from heights between 5,000 and 7,000 feet.
“Our research clearly shows that drones may provide utilities a tool that could reduce outage restoration time,” said Matthew Olearczyk, senior program manager for distribution research at EPRI. “Using live steaming video information, utility system operators would be able to dramatically improve damage assessment.”
EPRI said the technology would allow utilities to deploy repair crews faster and establish repair priorities.
The Associated Press has more on the civilian use of drones and the potential hurdles from the Federal Aviation Administration and the concerns from civil liberties groups.