Drones could help utilities keep the lights on, group says

The Electric Power Research Institute sees drones as a potentially powerful tool to respond to power outages after big storms.

Drones have been used in anti-terrorism efforts, by the U.S. border patrol and even to help fossil fuel companies inspect oil fields.

The Electric Power Research Institute sees drones as a potentially powerful tool to respond to power outages after big storms. The non-profit research group believes drones could be used to gather information about damage and help crews quickly restore electricity to customers, according to a report on the talk-show program Platts Energy Week.

These days when a massive storm hits a city and causes a power outage, utilities send out crews in trucks to assess the problem. That kind of "boots on the ground"  response takes a lot of time and money. A drone could quickly survey the area and even gain access to places with heavy damage and downed trees, which might be blocking roads.

EPRI is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to see if drones could be used by utilities. Safety and privacy--typical issues that involve drones--would have have to be addressed, Matthew Olearcyzk of EPRI said in the interview with Platts.

Photo: Flickr user koocbor

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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