Southern Company to expand use of drones for power line and storm damage inspection

Published on September 12, 2016 by Jessica Limardo

The Southern Company will expand its use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, to improve storm damage assessments and routine power line inspections, the company announced on Tuesday.

“UAS has the potential to revolutionize our business, to be a game changer,” Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Larry Monroe said. “Southern Company has been proactive in pushing the deployment of UAS technology forward, so that we can use drones to help our employees work more safely, improve reliability and, at the end of the day, deliver real solutions that meet our customers’ energy needs in more inventive ways.”

The Southern Company was one of the first utilities to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to pilot UAS for inspection purposes last year. Since then, the company has continued research and development initiatives to leverage the technology for enhanced energy safety and reliability efforts and is considering how the technology can be used across all part of its businesses.

The Southern Company uses UAS technology to assess damage to energy infrastructure following severe storms. Drones are also used for routine power line maintenance, including visual inspection of transmission lines and towers.

UAS technology also helps ensure the safety of workers and assists with environmental protection because routine maintenance can be performed with minimal interference.