Drones for Inspection and Delivery at the 2021 ARC forum

By Rick Rys

Technology Trends

Experts Describe the Status and Progress of Drones Used for Inspection and Delivery at the ARC Forum in February 2021

The ARC forum session on “Drones Used for Inspection and Delivery” showed just how fast drone applications have developed and what we can expect for future progress. The visions of air taxis, package delivery to your home, and the greatly expanded use of drones for various inspection and automated work tasks are slowly making progress as new technology and new regulations evolve. At the first fully virtual ARC forum this past February we got an update from several experts at the forefront of the evolving drone industries. I mention this as industries because there are multiple industries that are evolving out of the huge investments being made in multiple drone-related industries. The speakers below are shown along with just a taste of their presentations that you can now view for free here.



Experts Provide Multiple Perspectives

Our presenters covered the progress from multiple perspectives. Lux Luxion gave us some insights on the latest FAA-related research and regulations. The ASSURE organization is well connected as the bridge between the FAA and industries looking to expand drone applications. Lux gave a thorough update on FAA activities and even addressed some of the cyber security issues that popped up in the Q&A session.

Eric Schwartz Florida Power and Light Air Manger and Jackson P. Rollins – Duke Energy Drone Manager showed how utilities have created drone organizations and what jobs they are doing now. In just a few short years ARC has seen how these small drone divisions have grown and what tasks they are currently performing. The drone tasks may not be what you think. Eric and Jackson also opened up many ideas for future uses of drones by utilities as regulations allow more activities beyond line of site and outside of the current FAA restrictions they will replace or augment conventional fixed wing planes and helicopters. 
Lux Luxion is the executive director of the ASSURE organization. A retired colonel in the USAF a former he is able to bridge the gap between the FAA and Industry to address the needs for safe and reliable air space. He described some of the research on air-to-air collisions and various risk factors, including Command, Control, & Communications (C3).

Miriam McNabb Editor, DRONELIFE was not able to present in our 2020 forum session as she was in Rwanda Africa to review some of the earliest successful drone business models like the ZipLine drone delivery systems. ZipLine has been operating successfully delivering medical and other urgent supplies in Africa for nearly a decade now with nearly 1 million deliveries and a complete logistics supply chain. Miriam talked extensively on the topic of drone delivery and left us with some ideas on just how fast and where it may happen.

Drones Used for Inspection and Delivery

Discussion during the Q&A Suggests That Drones Can Help Keep Power Reliable

The discussion included a live survey that asked the audience what drone applications for inspection and delivery would happen by 2030. Check out the discussion on that survey in the presentation starting at about 1:22 into the presentation.  Jett Winter from GE during the discussion added to the utility comments how their asset management capability uses visual intelligence and machine learning to help identify issues in the utility transmission and distribution system. Drone photos and videos can be one source of visual data.

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