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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44 unmanned systems inside   August/September 2018 AIR IPP VIRGINIA openly share a lot of our learnings so other companies can do the same thing we're able to do." Last year, State Farm began work- ing with MAAP to obtain waivers for BVLOS operations as well as flights over people, said Todd Binion, P&C Claims Staff Consultant at State Farm. They began a project that focused on field testing to support waivers for these op- erations, and because they had already formed a partnership with the test site, it just made sense for State Farm to join the Virginia IPP application. They'll continue to expand on the work they've already done, which in- volved scoping out the concept of op- erations, thinking through documen- tation and accessing risk, Binion said. "We're identifying some of the po- tential challenges involved with f lying BVLOS and developing test cards that address those scenarios and offer po- tential mitigations that would result in safe operations of the drone and de-conf liction with manned aircraft or other similar concerns," he said. "We'll then test these mitigations and validate the most efficient means for managing risk for those types of opera- tions. That results in risk-based safety case development." Once safety cases are developed for these advanced uses, they'll be rolled into waiver applications submitted to the FAA, Binion said. State Farm already deploys drones to assess roof damage after storms, which helps speed up the claims process so customers get paid faster, Binion said. These assessments are completed one house at a time, which is effective in most situations, but during a catastro- phe that effects a large number of peo- ple, it would be better to deploy multiple drones at once to assess damage in cer- tain neighborhoods and towns. Based on what's found in the aerial imagery, State Farm could then quickly deter- mine which policy holders were impact- ed most and begin providing claim ser- vices. That, of course, requires BVLOS operations and flights over people. "What we see as an opportunity for using aerial imagery, particularly from a drone, is the ability to enhance our response beyond what we're able to do today," Binion said. "We don't see drones as the only option after a storm, but it's a great addition to the menu of items we have available to use depend- ing on the scenario. There may be sce- narios where f lying beyond visual line of sight is not feasible or useful and other times where it is." THE CHALLENGES Safely incorporating advanced drone operations into the National Airspace is a huge challenge in and of itself, which is why the IPP teams were cre- ated in the first place, Binion said. For State Farm, one of the most difficult tasks will be completing the legwork to truly understand what the operational and technical challenges are, and what capabilities they can unlock to better serve their customers. From the IPP standpoint, there are a wide range of users—both in the pro- gram and throughout the drone indus- try—who have different objectives and needs. State Farm is focused on roof inspections, while others are looking into delivering medical devices or con- trolling mosquitos, to name just a few uses the teams are exploring. While no use case is more important than an- other, the variety that exists presents a challenge. FUTURE USES FOR DOMINION ENERGY As the IPP projects progress, Dominion Energy would like to look into gas detection, particularly in the shielded transmission line area where the gas line runs in the same right of way, said Steve Eisenrauch, Dominion Energy's manager of electric transmission forestry and line services. They also want to move into automated BVLOS flights, where the systems follow pre-programmed routes. Though the technology is still in its infancy, Eisenrauch also sees the benefits of using machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify defects with electric transmission facilities, adding safety and reliability to the electric transmission system. "We're always looking for ways to deliver energy in the most reliable manner," he said. "Beyond visual line of sight allows us to look at right of ways more often and has the potential to allow us to deliver energy in the best way possible through technology." One of the use cases the Virginia team will tackle under the IPP is inspection of linear infrastructure like powerlines. What we're after is not so much proof of concept anymore. We want to actually get out there and start developing our procedures to make this operational." Steve Eisenrauch, manager of electric transmission forestry and line services, Dominion Energy " Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

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