Sharper Shape and SkySkopes use UAS for construction project



In cooperation with an investor owned utility, Sharper Shape and SkySkopes recently used a Sharper A6 UAS to “string sock lines for a 675 kV line construction project.”

Sock pulling, which is the “act of flying a strong and lightweight rope and attaching it to the towers,” is usually performed by the way of helicopters, or by workers climbing the towers, but these methods are dangerous for helicopter pilots and ground crews alike.

Using UAS, the previously complicated process that involves several steps of reattaching the rope is eliminated, which ultimately lowers the risk of injury for all parties involved.

“This use-case highlights how UAS are a safe and effective option for many applications in the utility industry beyond basic inspections,” says Matt Dunlevy, CEO and President of SkySkopes.

“This is a great proof of concept for unmanned aircraft because we proved that they can string both the outboard lines and the center line through the middle of the center phase of a tower.”

According to Paul Frey, Director – Electric Utilities for Sharper Shape, there were a number of unknowns when the utility initially reached out to Sharper Shape and SkySkopes.

But the entities worked together as a team to develop a test plan, and conducted five test flights to test several objectives “related to pulling the line through each of the tower phases, triggering the “PAC Man” and setting the line on the center pulley.”

“We appreciated the challenge to innovate a feasible line pull solution for this 675 kV line project,” says Mike Johnson, Director of Flight Operations at SkySkopes. “The team did a great job of modifying a heavy lift small UAS to carry line, developing a test plan, and making sure the test flights were safely executed.”

Johnson adds, “overall, I am impressed by the utility’s commitment (to) finding new ways to make their operations safer.”