Operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight

Empire District Electric successfully tests LiDAR enabled unmanned aerial system for vegetation management on a 345-kV line.

Jason Grossman, Empire District Electric Co., and Nick Ferguson, NM Group

In July 2016, a team of industry experts stood next to a 345-kV line in Missouri, U.S., ready to conduct tests for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights with an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The objective was to test an aerial light detection and ranging (LiDAR) payload and then analyze the data for use in vegetation management of the line.

Increasing penetration of UAS in consumer and industry markets has raised the question of how electric utilities can benefit from autonomous flight. LiDAR-enabled UAS have the potential to facilitate utility vegetation management through the perpetual refresh of dimensional information.


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