BVLOSSharper Shape, a global leader in automated drone services, has harnessed aerial technology capable of executing electrical utility inspections beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

BVLOS is a big deal for electrical utilities. The cost of performing electrical grid inspections with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will drop dramatically once the drone inspection industry is permitted to fly beyond the visual range of system operators.

ARTICLE: Border States enhancing utility drone inspection with Sharper Shape


Safe, quick and reliable asset inspections

UAS technology is a gamechanger for utilities because it offers clear, unobstructed views of assets from all angles – as well as quality data that yields actionable steps toward greater operational efficiency.

When it comes to utility maintenance inspections, Sharper Shape utilizes drones that help increase:

  • Safety: Lifesaving BVLOS technology eliminates the need for personnel to climb dangerous structures, or work from low-flying aircrafts.
  • Speed: Using drones for inspection work is much quicker than relying on foot patrols.
  • Performance: The quality of Sharper Shape’s fleet matches that of helicopter inspections, without the hefty price tag.

How BVLOS inspection works

BVLOS flights are normally flown autonomously under computer control, while the pilot monitors an HD video feed. When flying BVLOS missions, communications between the ground crew and the aircraft are critical. Sharper Shape utilizes technology that makes it possible to operate a drone from hundreds of miles away.

It costs roughly the same to operate a drone to take only a few photos as it does to fly a system that can capture a range of data simultaneously. This technology allows several different inspection requirements to be satisfied in one flight.

Almost every department in a utility can put drones to work, helping improve areas like vegetation management, maintenance and engineering work. Purpose-built software is the key to simplifying inspection field work.

Case study: Introducing the Sharper A6 drone

The Sharper A6 drone is a professional unmanned aircraft system designed for long-range utility inspections. It’s comprised of a two-piece molded carbon fiber shell that is light, rugged and weatherproof. This video shows the Sharper A6 fly a BVLOS mission.


Key to the A6’s BVLOS capability is a highly redundant Sharper 4X4 LTE cellular command and control system. The drone can lift a payload of up to 20 pounds – more than enough to carry the advanced Sharperscope 5.0.

One of the most capable inspection tools available anywhere in the world, the Sharperscope 5.0 multi-sensor payload system simultaneously captures HD video, as well as nadir and oblique photographs, infrared images, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scans, and optionally UV or normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data.

The Sharperscope 5.0 multi-sensor payload captures an incredible array of geospatial and image data in a single flight. Additionally, all sensor outputs are recorded as a single data stream with the integrated i7 computer and 2-TB hard drive.

utility dronesFor questions regarding Sharper Shape’s service offerings, contact Jack McLagan, Border States Product Manager, by emailing or calling (701) 239-2370.

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