Major gas and electricity network operators in Scotland and England are exploring the use of innovative drone technologies to improve inspection methods across their networks thanks to the UK Energy Innovation Centre (EIC).
Following the identification of the potential benefits of using drones, the EIC’s energy industry partners are now working with the Department of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Transport Catapult to advance the use of these technologies as a viable alternative to traditional inspection methods.
The aim of the collaboration is to determine what drone system characteristics and operations processes are required to enable ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) operations to become routine in a range of energy network environments.
Tony Knowles, technical manager at the EIC, said: “This has created an unprecedented opportunity for companies at the forefront of this exciting new technology to engage with energy network operators who are keen to work collaboratively to adopt drones within their networks.
“Drone technology offers huge potential for the networks to increase the efficiency, safety and minimise disruption to the public with some of their operations. This is a great example of using the call process to allow them to tap in to a wealth of third party knowledge that’s out there, while also creating opportunities for SMEs to work with the networks.”
The Energy Innovation Centre is a not-for-profit innovation scout owned by eight of the UK’s gas and electricity distribution networks.