Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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26 unmanned systems inside   August/September 2018 AIR IPP ALASKA University of Alaska-Fairbanks has been looking at some things. We're looking at some things. And so we hope to be able to collaborate on some of those technologies as well." In addition to doing inspections along the TAPS, the Alaska team will also be monitoring several smaller pipelines including natural gas infra- structure in the Cook Inlet—looking for leaks and things like people in the area, Cahill said. " There's some 40 and 50 mile stretches where we'd like to go beyond line of sight along those pipelines," Cahill said. Cook Inlet is one of the big fjords that run north to Anchorage. "There are some protected popula- tions of whales in there, Cahill added, "so some of what we've talked about doing is monitoring of whales using unmanned aircraft." MORE MISSIONS Though the BVLOS work is now the clear focus, it may only be the begin- ning of what the Alaska team will be tackling. Alaska submitted five areas of en- deavor when it applied for the IPP program. Working with the FAA, the UAF team decided to concentrate on BVLOS for long line linear inspec- tions—but once that work is done the team should be able to expand their activities to encompass more of their original proposal. Part of that plan was combining the pipeline monitoring with monitor- ing of other things along the way, like checking for problems with the roads. "For example, up in Thompson Pass, which is down by Valdez, (the Depar tment of Transpor tation) is concerned about avalanches. They're concerned about deteriorating road- ways, asphalt, etc. They've got an airport that they need to survey for obstructions," Cahill said. Bad roads are one of the reasons the team also wants to work on drone de- livery of medical necessities between the towns of Indian and Hope, which sit six to seven miles across from each other across the Turnagain Arm fjord. "This is going to be something in A laska that'll be ver y impor tant," Cahill said. "We have very few roads and often the roads are in terrible condition in the middle of winter. So this would be a case where the high- way that goes around Turnagain Inlet frequently has rockslides, avalanches, etc. that close it. And even if it's not closed it's over an hour around—if the roads are good. Of course, worse and it'll give you a longer time. But we could go to the little town of Indian and f ly something across." The team also would like to tackle developing the safety cases for night f lights, particularly because of the long nights in the northern regions, and for operations over people. The latter, Cahill said, would support urban law enforcement in Anchorage and enable drones to be used to film things like the start of the Iditarod—a use case cited by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao when she announced the teams selected for the Integration Pilot Program. Finally, Cahill is hoping to develop BVLOS capabilities to expand the uses of drones in remote areas in Alaska where just getting to a job site can be deadly dangerous. There are things like fish and wild- life counts that need to be done in the canyons and other remote areas, she said, but there are few roads and f lying people in can be risky. Doing search and rescue operations in these areas also can be perilous. Many of these tasks could be done, or at least supported, with drones, she said, and working up the concept of operations for doing such remote op- erations will improve safety by taking pilots and biologists out of manned aircraft. "We lose a lot of pilots and biologists to crashes in Alaska," Cahill said. The technology is there to fly these long ranges. We just need to make sure we have the correct sense and avoid aircraft detection protocols in place." Jacques Cloutier, drone expert, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company " IPP team member Alyeska began trying pipe inspection with drones in 2013. Photo courtesy of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

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