Seeing potential in use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

My first experience with unmanned aircraft systems (what many call “drones,”) came while watching an online video of fireworks over my favorite beach. They were filmed by a small camera mounted to the bird-sized aircraft, and watching it I felt like I was IN the fireworks. Though local police probably gave the pilot a stern talking-to for violating FAA regulations, I got a thrill from seeing something very common to me from an entirely different perspective.

Electric transmission linesUtilities are also starting to see the business potential of getting a literal different point of view and are exploring the use of unmanned aircraft systems—UAS for short —to replace costlier or more cumbersome or in some situations, potentially unsafe, inspection processes.

We have requested appropriate exemptions from the FAA beginning in early 2016 to test the use of this technology to inspect our facilities and transmission towers and lines, with other potential applications including storm damage assessment.  Because of their size, UAS are often able to get into places inaccessible or unsafe by traditional methods.

If you are interested in learning more about how utilities are using the technology and our plans, the Emergency Planning group is holding a Lunch and Learn on Tuesday, October 13 from 12-1:00 in Reservoir Woods.  You can also join the online meeting and dial into a conference call.  See the October 5 edition of At a Glance for details.

If you would like to help us with this project, or even have ideas for ways we could use UAS at National Grid, get in touch with Jackee Mohl  (781-907-1736) or Mike Cooper (781-907-2495) to help build the case for support.

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