How SDG&E trains drone operators to help restore power - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

How SDG&E trains drone operators to help restore power

Posted: Updated:
  • RelatedMore>>

  • FAA grants SDG&E request to use drones

    FAA grants SDG&E request to use drones

    Tuesday, March 31 2015 9:11 AM EDT2015-03-31 13:11:20 GMT
    The Federal Aviation Administration granted San Diego Gas & Electric's request to use unmanned aircraft to conduct aerial inspections of its electric and gas facilities, the utility announced Monday. 
    The Federal Aviation Administration granted San Diego Gas & Electric's request to use unmanned aircraft to conduct aerial inspections of its electric and gas facilities, the utility announced Monday. 
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – SDG&E workers are now using drones to help troubleshoot problems faster. The FAA approved the utility company to use unmanned aircrafts for inspections.

SDG&E is the first utility company approved by the FAA to launch unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Currently, the company is in the research and development phase for its drone use for its 26,000 miles of power lines in all San Diego County and southern parts of Orange County.

CBS News 8 visited the Mission Valley site to see how drone operators are being trained to help response times during power outages.

“These UAS' are really paving the way for what can be done in the future,” said Allison Zaragoza, SDG&E spokesperson.

SDG&E has strict federal regulations and company policies in place where there is a licensed pilot and an trained observer on the ground to launch the UAS.

The utility company says the drones can be crucial during power outages such as inspecting to see if it's caused by a fallen tree branch or equipment damage.

"Sometimes we need bucket trucks, sometimes we need helicopters, sometimes we need to get access to roads that are not accessible by vehicle so these really are going to change the game and improve our response times,” said Zaragoza.

The UAS weighs less than one pound and the camera feeds back live video to the pilot's controller on the ground.

SDG&E says the $6,000 drone is the same amount as its helicopter for a five-mile ride. The spokesperson says the cost of the drones will not cause a rate hike.

Crews says the UAS' will also improve safety for customers and crews on the ground.

“Bucket trucks can often times be dangerous if there are high winds and it's not as stable so that might prolong an outage,” said Zaragoza.

SDG&E says there are strict regulations about privacy where crews can only fly in the line of sight.

“We don't want customers to worry that there will be these UAS' flying in unknown areas, they will be located by our facilities and with our crews nearby,” said Zaragoza.

SDG&E is upgrading drones to include a live feed that will loop to the control center. The company would like to officially launch 11 drones, each approved the FAA.

The drones also have infrared capabilities and engineers can use them for planning purposes.

SDG&E says it plans to finish its research and development by the end of the year.

Some of the footage used in this video report was shot using a GoPro camera.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.