Inspecting Energy Infrastructure with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

In a Commercial UAV News article, Navigant Research explains the pros and cons of using drones to inspect energy operations

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are ushering in the next generation of energy infrastructure inspection with beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights.

In a Commercial UAV News article, Navigant Research’s Michael Hartnack, research analyst, explained how technology experts, regulators, UAV companies, and other interest groups are working through the benefits and challenges of allowing utilities and energy infrastructure asset owners to use BVLOS for drone inspection operations.

“Some say the benefits are clear, with significant cost savings to be passed onto utilities, and in turn ratepayers,” Hartnack said. “Others argue that such autonomy exposes networks to both physical and cybersecurity threats.”

Hartnack discussed the following market drivers that will facilitate the deployment of BVLOS UAVs for energy infrastructure inspection:

  • Aging electric infrastructure and network reliability risks
  • Safety improvements
  • Financial savings and cost-shifting

He also explained the following market inhibitors:

  • Regulatory stringency
  • Financial requirements
  • Technology limitations

“Navigant Research expects that today’s favorable market conditions and the sum of the benefits offered will propel UAVs and BVLOS operations into mainstream utility deployment within the next five years,” Hartnack said.

Read the Commercial UAV Article
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