Transport Canada has given its approval to Ontario Power Generation to operate inspection drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), without an onsite visual observer, at McConnell Lake Control Dam. Percepto, whose drone-in-a-box solution will make this feat possible, points out this is the first time regulators are allowing autonomous drone operations in Canada.
As extreme weather becomes more common, power utilities are looking for ways to recover faster from natural disasters, and get the lights on and furnaces working sooner. In Canada, thousands spent Christmas in the dark last month after a powerful arctic winter storm knocked power out. Ferocious winter conditions across Ontario even forced two regions to declare a state of emergency.
But, now, this new approval by Transport Canada will allow the government-owned Ontario Power Generation to remotely perform high-frequency inspections. And this will, hopefully, help ensure resiliency with faster response times after storms and other natural disasters.
Stressing that the breakthrough approval also lays the groundwork for similar highly automated BVLOS drone operations at other industrial sites in Canada, Percepto explains that a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) has been issued for its Air Max autonomous drone-in-a-box solution. Operations will be spearheaded by Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems, with a pilot project for remote inspections starting as early as this month.
Ontario Power Generation senior information system specialist, Tim Trebilcock, says:
We look forward to gaining new operation and infrastructure insights at McConnell Lake Control Dam. Our hope is that this technology will help our efforts to ensure asset integrity and reliable electricity generation for Ontarians.
Percepto’s VP of policy and government affairs, Neta Gliksman, adds:
We look forward to growing our strong working relationship with Transport Canada and supporting their efforts to create a thriving environment for drone operations by making autonomous drone technology available to power stations and other critical infrastructure across the country.
It’s worth highlighting that this news comes shortly after Percepto gained a groundbreaking nationwide waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowing its autonomous drones to operate remotely at qualifying sites across the United States from day one.