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What is working now?

Dave Pitman

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I've reached out to our local power provider, a PUD (Public Utility District) asking about UAS use to make their job safer or easier. So far, I haven't even been able to get a reply out of them. I'm unsure if they are planning on using UAS in-house, or if they don't consider UAS to be a worth while tool for them.

I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with work for a utility and would share what they have learned.
Thanks!
 

ArrUnTuS

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As far as I know in Spain, some companies are already using drones to take thermal images of power lines. One with its own drones and one, at a minimum, outsourcing.

Then with RGB and thermal images inspections of the high-voltage towers are made. As with wind turbines, it is safer for the worker and cheaper for the company. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to work on it to say exactly what they are asking for.
 

AH-1G

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I've reached out to our local power provider, a PUD (Public Utility District) asking about UAS use to make their job safer or easier. So far, I haven't even been able to get a reply out of them. I'm unsure if they are planning on using UAS in-house, or if they don't consider UAS to be a worth while tool for them.

I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with work for a utility and would share what they have learned.
Thanks!
I reached out to Duke Energy locally to video there new recruits training on poles. Stopped by several times for a follow up. no response :(
 

Dave Pitman

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I reached out to Duke Energy locally to video there new recruits training on poles. Stopped by several times for a follow up. no response :(
It is frustrating when you don't get a response. "Thank you, but we're not interested" would be preferable to nothing. It makes one wonder if either they get so much spam every day that they are sick of it. Or, they are just extremely un-business-like and / or short sighted.
 

BigAl07

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I reached out to Duke Energy locally to video there new recruits training on poles. Stopped by several times for a follow up. no response :(
I don't know where you're located but in North Carolina DUKE Energy is an industry leader as far as UAS operations go. They have the largest fleet and the most advanced UAS I've ever seen. They even make their own TV Commercials with their UAS now. A fellow UAS operator here locally is their lead RPIC and he gets to fly the most amazing UAS available and does so all over the USA.

It is frustrating when you don't get a response. "Thank you, but we're not interested" would be preferable to nothing. It makes one wonder if either they get so much spam every day that they are sick of it. Or, they are just extremely un-business-like and / or short sighted.
Odds are they are getting HAMMERED with these same requests now. It's public knowledge that this type of work is very lucrative and highly sought out. Just think if we are here talking about it how many thousands of others on other forums and not even on a forum are reaching out to them each and every day.
 
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AH-1G

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It is frustrating when you don't get a response. "Thank you, but we're not interested" would be preferable to nothing. It makes one wonder if either they get so much spam every day that they are sick of it. Or, they are just extremely un-business-like and / or short sighted.
I personally visited DUKE's local office.
I never email or call, my marketing strategy is cold calling on businesses, old school,however I will follow up if I was given a number or email..
It's helps to know somebody in the organization to get you in the door.
I did not know DUKE has their own fleet.
 

BigAl07

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I personally visited DUKE's local office.
I never email or call, my marketing strategy is cold calling on businesses, old school,however I will follow up if I was given a number or email..
It's helps to know somebody in the organization to get you in the door.
I did not know DUKE has their own fleet.
Oh yea and it's VERY impressive to say the least. Here's the latest commercial that has some of their own UAS footage in it:

 
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Outta Control

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Hopefully I can shade some light on to what is happening. As a Trainer and Instructor from Drone University USA, I have noticed a growing number of corporation sending their employees to our P107 course. This is an indication that large corporate entities (utility and communications) are exploring or implementing sUAS work in-house. This will be a tough battle to fight companies like these.



So, I would recommend looking for smaller independent utility company to go after. They do not have the resource to send, maintain, employ, and deploy, a sUAS program. Good Luck.
 
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I've done sub contracted work for FPL down in Florida after natural disasters. But have not managed to get in with them for anything else yet.
 

Mattdbal

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Hey there,

I work for a large power utility in the Midwest and am one of two people in our company I'm aware of that are licensed. We are both in Telecom. I started researching and implementing uas for work within it group including line of sight verification between communication towers, structure and equipment inspection and even radio signal strength measurements.

I do know that the company has used small drones for boiler inspections in power plants.i believed they hired someone for this.

I do know there was some interest by our security group about using drones to monitor large power plant campuses but it didn't get very far.

I do know the transmission company has or has hired someone to inspect some of their lines.

In my opinion there are many use cases, but I think utility companies are going to be split on hiring contractors or doing it in house. All I know is that my group will continue to use the drones internally. I just have to wait for my m210 and z30 camera to get purchased...;) it's budgeted so things are moving.

I hope I could offer a little insight!

-Matt
 

breid1

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I have been a licensed Part 107 holder since February 2017 and I work for a municipality power system. It has taken me almost a year to convince the city fathers in implementing a drone program. We are nearly there as we have a draft drone policy up for review. My goal is to be able to utilize drones for power line inspection, both visual and thermal. In addition, the other departments in the City are interested in the services of a drone. Since at the present time, I am the only licensed pilot, I foresee things are about to get a little busy. I agree, it does lot of persistence to knock down these doors, but don't give up and keep educating the powers to be.
 
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breid1

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Hey there,

I work for a large power utility in the Midwest and am one of two people in our company I'm aware of that are licensed. We are both in Telecom. I started researching and implementing uas for work within it group including line of sight verification between communication towers, structure and equipment inspection and even radio signal strength measurements.

I do know that the company has used small drones for boiler inspections in power plants.i believed they hired someone for this.

I do know there was some interest by our security group about using drones to monitor large power plant campuses but it didn't get very far.

I do know the transmission company has or has hired someone to inspect some of their lines.

In my opinion there are many use cases, but I think utility companies are going to be split on hiring contractors or doing it in house. All I know is that my group will continue to use the drones internally. I just have to wait for my m210 and z30 camera to get purchased...;) it's budgeted so things are moving.

I hope I could offer a little insight!

-Matt
Matt,

What is the z30? Is it a camera? I am looking at getting an Inspire 1 with a Zenmuse XT thermal camera. Not crazy at going back to an Inspire 1, though.
 
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Matt,

What is the z30? Is it a camera? I am looking at getting an Inspire 1 with a Zenmuse XT thermal camera. Not crazy at going back to an Inspire 1, though.
The Z30 is a camera that is capable of 30x optical soon. So you dont need to fly nearly as close to get accurate pictures.
 
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FatherXmas

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I'm a contractor working for TVA doing telecom. One of the sites I've worked at is their airport. They have 6 helicopters they use for power line inspections. I've talked to the airport manager, he said TVA has been talking about using UAVs but so far I do not believe they've actually done anything toward it. I've asked several other folks and no one so far knows anything about it.
 

ArrUnTuS

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I'm a contractor working for TVA doing telecom. One of the sites I've worked at is their airport. They have 6 helicopters they use for power line inspections. I've talked to the airport manager, he said TVA has been talking about using UAVs but so far I do not believe they've actually done anything toward it. I've asked several other folks and no one so far knows anything about it.
It would be very interesting to know what they actually record. Thermal Images? spectral? They monitor trees and weeds near the lines? Do they inspect all tower insulations?
 

rvrrat14

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Our local utility uses in-house resources. Main use is pulling a cord by which the line crews pull cable. Start with a cord over rough terrain and then tie larger ropes to that and pull through.

I hear all the time, “Yeah, we got a drone”, but I never see them flying. I look!
 

FatherXmas

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It would be very interesting to know what they actually record. Thermal Images? spectral? They monitor trees and weeds near the lines? Do they inspect all tower insulations?
Sorry to say it has never occurred to me to ask exactly what they look at and how. Next time I go over there, I'll try to remember to ask for details.
 
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FlyaDrone

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if you want to get a better sense of what is going on with drones in the electrical utility industry then here is a publication to look at on line. Just perform a search on drones and you will get more than 50 articles related to how drones are being used in the industry and by individual companies. Also look into Burns & McDonnell as they are rated the #1 AEC contractor to the utility industry and they have their own drone based inhouse services.

Transmission & Distribution World
 

KLAX

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The Z30 is a camera that is capable of 30x optical soon. So you dont need to fly nearly as close to get accurate pictures.
Let's be brutally honest about the Z30. It does have zoom capability. Both optical and digital. But....it only has a TWO (2) Megapixel sensor. Not 20. Just 2.
If you're not clear on what this means, let's frame it up this way. Your customer can look at a very clear, steady image capture from your Z30. When they zoom in on the static image using their native computer image viewer, it will look pretty crappy pretty quickly as they try to look at image details.

It's good, but it can be way better. I'm hopeful that DJI is working on that for a 2018 release. None of the DJI shops have info on this. So sadly, we're left with a 1st generation Commercial vehicle that is using substandard sensors for hi def imagery. They (DJI) have to know this already. They have a partnership with Hasselblad FF sake.

Aeryon Skyranger has 30x zoom, but their camera (Sony) has a 20mp sensor. Profound difference to the customer doing analysis of imagery.
 

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