Featured Insights

Drone Technology: Utilities Demonstrate a Growing Interest

The interest in drone technology by electric, water and natural gas utilities is growing at a rapid pace, and this relatively new application for utilities seems positioned to eventually become a best practice as the usage is woven into more projects.

According to Black & Veatch’s 2016 Strategic Directions: Smart City/Smart Utility report, more than 60 percent of survey participants view drones as providing value for their construction, maintenance and operations programs.

Brad Hardin, Global Chief Technology Officer for Black & Veatch, said utility providers see many opportunities to accomplish projects more economically.

“But just owning the drone equipment will not be a differentiator,” Hardin said. “The innovative things that utilities do with the data they capture will create the competitive advantage for them.”

For electric and natural gas providers, this reflects a strong interest in pipeline and power line project inspections and image capture instead of more costly and time-intensive measures such as using helicopters and line inspection crews. It is easy to understand the growing attraction to drones.

“As drone use becomes more accepted and implemented, those working to provide design, engineering and construction services to utilities must adopt drone capabilities. We expect their use will climb sharply.”

Brian Melton, Technology Strategist in Black & Veatch’s water business