FARGO, N.D. (AP) – The Minnesota utility that paved the way by using drones to inspect transmission lines is now being used to construct one.
A machine owned and operated by SkySkopes based in North Dakota added wires onto Wednesday's six power poles which are part of Xcel Energy's line (5,500 kilometers) 5 miles in the Fargo area. Xcel and SkySkopes officials say that drones will save time and money and increase safety and reduce the impact on the environment from heavy equipment that can land up.
“Safety is what we are after,” said Cory Vinger, COO from SkySkopes, who have carried out similar projects around the country. “There are only so many different things we want to do as a good steward.” T
Xcel provides energy to customers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. It was the first utility in the country to have received Federal Aviation Administration approval to bring flight drones beyond sight of the pilot for inspections.
“I am proud of the role we are taking to develop this new technology,” said Mark Nisbet, chief manager of Xcel Energy. “Innovation is contributing to the safety of our employees and helping us to keep our prices down.” T
Wiring the lines involves a multi-stage process when the drone draws a specialized string through a pulley attached to a wire that transmits electricity. Erik Nelson took about 20 minutes to do a pilot on Wednesday, despite windy conditions that shook the lines and pulleys.
“We are probably not as beautiful as a helicopter, but we are saving money and improving safety.” Vinger said. “You are taking the pilot out of the equation. There is an in-replacement drone. There is no life there. ”
A helicopter was able to crash New York in October and two were killing power lines. It happened that two people died in the thin crash when the helicopter hiding in the wires before it fell about 40 feet on the ground.
Nisbet, the Wednesday drone exhibition, gave me an “exciting day for me and the state” which will give the company a better insight into how soon they will increase the use of unmanned aircraft on stringing lines.
“The wind is a small challenge,” said Nesbit. “Some dolls had 90 degrees, which I said would not be possible for helicopters to adapt. However, due to the flexibility of the ridges, they were able to repeat these dolls so that they were in the right direction. ”
Sky Dunkkes, president SkySkopes, and Chief Executive Matt Dunlevy said that the heavy raised ridges will complement many industries.
“There are lots of traditional ways of building things, delivering things, improving things that can be improved on unmanned aircraft – but not replacing them -” he said.
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