Energy provider Southern Company has announced plans to expand its existing drone program with assistance from Verizon-owned Skyward.
The move follows Southern Company and its affiliates’ established use of drone technology for remote inspections, wire transport and damage recovery assessments. In fact, the company claims to be the first utility to submit a section 333 exemption – back when they were required for commercial missions – and has been deploying UAS technology since 2015.
Southern Company eyes Skyward’s LAANC provision
The partnership with Skyward brings obvious benefits. As one of several LAANC providers, Skyward is well-positioned to improve the utility’s UAS asset management and situational awareness while enabling streamlined access to controlled airspace.
Southern Company has also confirmed plans to develop their internal command and control application as they plot a path forward for future beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) missions.
“Southern Company is proud to build the future of energy, and deploying new technologies keeps us in the forefront of the industry. We chose Skyward because we needed a partner with roots in aviation and computer science, as well as the depth of regulatory knowledge, to improve efficiency in managing our extensive nation-wide operations,” said Dean Barefield,
Southern Company’s UAS Program Manager.
“Using Skyward, we are excited to unlock use cases for flying beyond visual line of sight and capturing the full potential of drone technology. We’ve already proven strong ROI using drones, and partnering with Skyward is the next step to
furthering our leadership in the energy industry.”
Southern Company currently has a fleet of more than 50 aircraft and 60 remote pilots across its business units.
“Southern Company is leading the energy industry in deploying state-of-the-art drone operations technology and innovating their processes. Skyward is proud to help Southern Company fly in more ways and in more places and looks forward to continuing R&D work,” said Mariah Scott, Skyward President.