You typically shouldn’t fly drones in strong winds, unless you’re flying something like a Percepto drone.
The Israel-based drone maker that makes what it calls an “autonomous drone-in-a-box” just became the first drone company to build a product that passes Level 5 hurricane testing. Their drone can fly at a wind speed of up to 155mph.
Percepto’s Sparrow drone is an industrial focused drone, designed for utility companies to assess sites at any time a year, but particularly in the wake of a storm. The drones can check for damage, helping power plants that have been shut down due to storms get back up and running. Percepto’s drone-in-a-box product is not just the drone itself, but also an end-to-end experience including an AI-based software that provides real-time insights. It can fly in pretty much any weather (it can also land in high winds and in snow).
That could come into play especially during this year’s hurricane season., as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season in 2020. They attribute it to a “combination of several climate factors” including a trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity; warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea; reduced vertical wind shear; weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds; and an enhanced west African monsoon.
Couple that with COVID-19 this year, and Percepto’s drone might be even more necessary. Percepto says critical sites such as power stations are already short on staff members. And with hospitals and nursing homes already at high risk, getting power stations up and running is more important this year than ever.
Percepto says its customers including Fortune 500 companies spread across at least 10 different countries. One of their customers is Florida Power and Light, which uses Percepto’s drones immediately in the aftermath of hurricanes to assess and fix damage even if storms are still ongoing — thus avoiding endangering their staff,
Florida Power and Light, which absorbed $274 million of damage to their infrastructure in 2019 from Hurricane Dorian — leaving 160,000 customers without power — said their goal is to eventually put a Percepto drone-in-a-box at every substation, transmission yard, plant and solar facility, said to Eric Schwartz, manager of FPL’s aerial intelligence response.
A growing number of companies beyond just Percepto are building up their energy inspection drones. AiRXOS, the drone arm of General Electric subsidiary GE Aviation, this month launched AiRXOS Enterprise Energy Solution, designed to help energy companies plan, schedule, operate and monitor all facets of their drone operations from a single platform. And in June, aerial data analytics company DroneBase announced it raised $7.5 million in Series C funding to expand its services to the renewable energy market with a product called DroneBase Insights for Wind and Solar.