A Sooner State utility wants to reduce power outage timeframes sooner rather than later and, you guessed it, drones are the weapon of choice.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric plans to deploy several multi-rotor inspection drones equipped with sensors and hi-res cameras to expedite post-storm assessments and pre-plan power line and wind turbine maintenance.
“We used drones for the first time to assess damage … following Winter Storm Jupiter in January,” OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea said in a company press release. “In the past, we’ve used helicopters, and we’ll still use them as necessary, however, drones can be deployed faster than helicopters in most scenarios. We estimate that we shaved off approximately a half day of assessment time by using drones.”
The state’s largest energy company – with more than 800,000 customers – also plans to develop regional partnerships with schools and colleges to brainstorm other applications.
“We’re discussing a number of potential uses such as inspecting power distribution lines, inspecting wind farm turbines, and inspecting the inside of power plant equipment like boilers and stacks,” O’Shea said. “Drones have become a prominent topic of interest among utility providers in Oklahoma and across the country.”
“Every storm is different and we know that within our service territory, you don’t always get a few days’ notice of severe weather,” O’Shea said. “In the case of Jupiter, we were able to pre-stage 1,270 workers and three staging areas. And even though the storm was not as far reaching as predicted, 31,000 customers lost power. If the storm had occurred as forecasted, pre-staging resources could have reduced outage duration by 24 to 48 hours.”
Using drones to mitigate extreme weather damage is yet another way unmanned aircraft are potentially saving lives and property. In 2015, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder launched a multi-million project aimed at drone-fueled data collection that could help meteorologists better understand severe weather events and develop enhanced warning systems to save more lives. Last year, twisters killed 20 people across the U.S.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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