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How are Drones Beneficial to the Utility Sector?

By CIOReview | Friday, January 24, 2020

Drones, a flying robot with two primary functions, flight, and navigation, have a lot to offer in the utility industry.

Fremont, CA: With immense possibilities projected by drones, these versatile flying robots are deemed to better operational efficiency, cut down on costs, reduce service disruption, enhance security, improve safety, and revamp site surveys. Merging drones with technologies like edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) provides additional possibilities. Given the current time when the utility industry is standing at a point where it is testing and deploying drones, it is an apt time to explore both the opportunities and challenges the drones bring along.

Drones possess the capability of creating immense volumes of data, with the help of camera sensors. To ensure that the data is processed and analyzed, the drones need to transmit it through a network, which will have bandwidth and connectivity limitations. The companies are only able to utilize a small proportion of the data that their drones produce.  

Edge computing shows the potential to change by providing drone computing capabilities. The drones then emerge to be the connecting edge devices that can process and analyze the data for themselves. This approach reduces not only network bandwidth requirements but also network latency.

With the combination of edge model and groundbreaking technologies like AI and ML, there are smart drones that are capable of responding to what it finds in near-real-time. The future waits for a drone that is fully autonomous utility inspection drones able to detect and identify defects or malfunctions earlier without the need for human assistance.

Although drones have a lot to offer the companies, significant challenges prevail around privacy, security, and safety. E and U companies have started to use drones for particular short-range tasks, and the best opportunities will come with leveraging drones for longer-range tasks that take them out of the sight of the operator. The out-of-sight droning is set to be the next level for grid operators with their miles of pipes and pylons to inspect.

The companies need to consider their plans for drones, edge computing, and artificial intelligence. These are a few of the technologies that are rising, which is deemed to be essential for their future success, the technologies that are bringing new challenges in the table that utilities need to overcome.

See Also: Top Utilities Technology Companies