Florida Power & Light (FPL), which serves more than 11 million people in Florida, is deploying autonomous drones across the state to monitor substations and power distribution grids. The electric utility has tied up with drone-in-a-box solutions provider Percepto for what is being hailed as “the largest commercial autonomous drone project in the world.”
The plan is to deploy 13 autonomous drones initially, with hundreds more getting added to the network over the next five years. The drones in operation across the state will be coordinated on a single platform through Percepto’s Autonomous Inspection and Monitoring (AIM) solution, which was named one of the 100 Best Inventions of 2021 by Time magazine.
These drones will ensure that the state’s electrical infrastructure is monitored constantly, providing residents with more reliable service with power back online faster after outages.
It works in FPL’s favor that Percepto’s drone-in-a-box solution has passed Level 5 hurricane testing at a wind speed of up to 155 mph. This ruggedness makes the solution ideal for deployment in a state that’s so susceptible to hurricanes.
However, this is not the only reason why FPL has chosen Percepto as its partner. The electric utility has been working with the Israeli drone manufacturer since 2018. The two companies have collaborated closely to develop optimized drone monitoring solutions and build consensus and compliance with FAA regulations. The FAA, meanwhile, has issued a nationwide waiver for FPL to fly Percepto drones for surveillance and inspection purposes at sites owned and serviced by FPL.
In addition, Percepto is a member of the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) which has recently provided its regulatory recommendations to fully incorporate highly automated BVLOS operations flights in US national airspace.
As Percepto chief commercial officer Ariel Avitan sums up:
Florida Power & Light’s visionary approach to adopting the latest drone technology will play a critical role in the electric grid of the future, and Percepto is thrilled its drones will help ensure vital infrastructure reliability to FPL’s customers.
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