drone vegetation management

drone vegetation managementVegetation management is one of the largest ongoing operational costs for utilities, costing approximately $8 billion for American utilities annually – but drone vegetation management is changing things.

Drone vegetation management reduces costs

Drones can carry the same light detection and ranging (LiDAR) previously used by helicopters, capturing millions of data points to map out miles of power line right-of-way. The benefits of this include:

  • A 30 percent reduction in inspection expenses
  • Reduced human risk

Detect maintenance needs more precisely

With drone inspections, utilities can find existing and potential issues more efficiently than ever before. Drone inspection capabilities include:

  • Automated analysis
  • Species recognition
  • Growth forecasting
  • Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)

Automatic detection

By utilizing drone vegetation management, utilities become more conscious of:

  • Potential encroachments
  • North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) compliance
  • Right-of-ways
  • Branching
  • Trunks
  • Undergrowth

Acting based on data

Utilities can leverage drone-collected data to address issues without delay, yielding:

  • More frequent inspections enabled by lower cost
  • Data that is up-to-date
  • Risk-based targeting of vegetation management
  • Improved reliability and resilience

Using human expertise where it’s needed

Nothing can replace the expertise of on-the-ground field crews, but drone inspections provide personnel with crucial tools to more efficiently and safely inspect power lines and their right-of-ways. Drone inspections inform crews of exactly which areas of the grid need special attention.

This blog post was drafted in partnership with Sharper Shape. Read Sharper Shape’s original article, “5 reasons drones will change the way you think about vegetation management.”

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