NYPA to Integrate Lidar into its Drone Safety Program

The New York Power Authority – NYPA has received a $125,000 grant from the American Public Power Association (APPA) Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development (DEED) program to research and integrate light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology into its existing in‑house Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program for vegetation management inspections along NYPA’s transmission lines. UAS, more commonly referred to as drones, have the potential to increase safety, lower cost, improve responsiveness and reduce the time to perform such inspections.

Photo of drone NYPA

NYPA To Test Lidar Drones

“The application of drones equipped with LiDAR technology will enable utilities like ours to conduct inspections with increased safety and improved efficiency,” says Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “This project not only moves the industry forward, but also plays a critical role in NYPA’s progress toward becoming the nation’s first end‑to‑end digital utility by digitizing inspection operations and collecting data with enhanced precision.”

In February 2019, NYPA will begin a year‑long pilot project to determine the optimal combination of drone and LiDAR technology for use in utility industry inspections. NYPA’s R&D team will evaluate combinations of drone and LiDAR technology, aimed at keeping the total weight of a drone with LiDAR equipment under 55 pounds in order to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 for the operation of “small” drones. By focusing the program on small drones, NYPA will be able to streamline the integration of LiDAR technology with the current scope of NYPA’s drone program using its team of certified small drone pilots.

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