The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and Sharper Shape, an operator of automated Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)-based asset inspection, have formed an innovative partnership to demonstrate and develop commercial UAS beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights for electric companies.
EEI and Sharper Shape are currently studying the business and regulatory dimensions of BVLOS flights, and intend to apply with the FAA for approval of demonstration flights later this year. Currently, inspections of transmission and distribution lines are done via helicopter or manually from the ground. The use of BVLOS UAS flights could provide significant benefits by enabling a safe, efficient and fast method of inspection.
I very much admire this proactive strategy. One hopes that the combination of a respected industry association and a commercial operator will be well received.
BVLOS utility inspections services is something that could be part of the Pathfinder initiative, right next to BSNF inspecting railroad tracks in New Mexico. Same problem and in many cases, the same right of ways.