CPS Energy using UAS technology to perform routine inspections of overhead infrastructure

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San Antonio’s CPS Energy has announced that it is now utilizing UAS technology to perform routine inspections of overhead infrastructure in a “safer and more efficient way.”

​This announcement comes a year after the energy company tested using this technology to inspect transmission towers and associated high voltage lines in May 2017. Through this testing, CPS Energy found that UAS inspections of 50 transmission line towers were completed in just two and a half days, which is a far cry shorter than the nearly two weeks it would have taken to complete these inspections using conventional methods.

Having proved the usefulness of this technology, CPS Energy believes that UAS will be used to inspect equipment approaching its end of life as well as equipment damaged during severe weather.

“We are integrating new technologies to expand our capabilities and operate more efficiently,” says Cris Eugster, Chief Operating Officer at CPS Energy.

“Performing inspections with the use of drones helps maintain the safety of our employees and leads to faster inspections of our overhead infrastructure. This proactive effort helps us identify potential issues and mitigate future power outages.”

CPS Energy says that UAS offer the “flexibility of performing routine infrastructure inspections from a safe distance whenever challenging or unsafe access issues are present.” The company notes that the progress of obtaining critical information that helps the utility evaluate the performance of their equipment can be slowed by a variety of factors including rough terrain, obstructions and even animals.

CPS Energy says that during times of severe weather, UAS can assess impacted areas and help provide information used to prioritize how the utility responds to widespread power outages.

CPS Energy currently has two UAS in its inventory. The company’s UAS pilots must follow FAA guidelines and make sure that they are cognizant of customer privacy when conducting UAS operations. CPS Energy says that it is “committed to providing advance notice to the community whenever planned drone flight inspections occur near their home or business.”

CPS Energy says that customers can benefit from UAS technology, because they can potentially be kept out of the dark as early detection of failing equipment can be repaired or replaced before experiencing an unplanned power outage.

Ultimately, CPS Energy believes that using UAS will lead to “work efficiency, increased productivity, accuracy improvements and enhanced customer service.”