Utility Company Uses UAV’s to Inspect Transmission Lines

It seems like everyday we are hearing more and more about companies that have been given permission to use UAVs in their business. Recently, San Diego Gas and Electric has become the first utility company in the nation to be approved by the FAA to use UAVs to inspect transmission lines. This a huge step in another industry that has been interested in using UAVs to save time, money, and possibly even lives.

San Diego Gas and Electric has been approved to use a quadcopter that is approximately 16 inches in diameter and weighs under a pound. It features a camera that has live feed so crews on the ground can inspect transmission lines in real time.

The benefit in using these quadcopters to inspect transmission lines is significant. Previously, the company had to lease helicopters to inspect the lines. The quadcopters can do what the helicopter did without the emissions, safety issues, noise, and larger cost. Along with this, the quadcopter can get closer to the transmission lines due to its smaller size, which could result in a better inspection.

San Diego Gas and Electric only plans to use the quadcopters to inspect transmission lines in rural areas of San Diego County. They also plan to use the quadcopters to monitor winds and fire conditions in a situation where a helicopter would not be able to be used.

San Diego Gas and Electric hopes to come back to the FAA to receive approval to expand the program to other areas of San Diego County. The recent effort by companies like San Diego Gas and Electric prove that the interest in using UAVs for commercial operations is continually growing. It won’t be long until we see many more companies using UAVs in their everyday operations to increase efficiency.

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Chris Gearinger

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