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Blue Bear conduct 2nd drone powerline inspection trials with Western Power Distribution

Blue Bear and Western Power Distribution carried out their second live flight trials under project AIRSTART. AIRSTART is a collaborative Research and Development project developing key technologies in four main areas enabling safe routine operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS):
  • Airspace Integration Technology
  • Smart Perception
  • Secure and Robust Communications
  • Propulsion Systems
These technologies will be integrated in a series of flight trials addressing real scenarios in maritime search and rescue and terrestrial power distribution network inspection. The key advantage for Western Power Distribution under this work is enabling BVLOS operations, which will both reduce cost and simply operating procedures for drone based infrastructure inspections.
The recent live trials with Blue Bear and Western Power Distribution used a specially modified hexacopter Small Unmanned Air System (SUAS) to test the performance of a range of different onboard sensors, and to validate system behaviour within the electromagnetic field of the energised power lines. In addition to high resolution visual and thermal cameras, the onboard sensors also provided a relative navigation and collision avoidance capability to enable safe operation in the presence of vegetation and other obstructions. These tests helped to both validate the inspection system design and functionality that will be used to enable BVLOS operations. Further field trials are planned this winter .  

Notes to editors:
1.Blue Bear is a world leader in innovative Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) research and development for defence and civil applications. The company’s expertise in UAS, precision flight control, autonomy, multivehicle mission management, and rapid prototyping of aerial platforms has seen it win major awards including the MoD Grand Challenge and an IET Innovation Award, as well as major defence UAS technology demonstrator contracts in the US and Europe.
2.Western Power Distribution (WPD) is the distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, and is responsible for delivering electricity to approximately 7.8 million customers in the UK.
3.WPD is not an electricity supply company and does not bill customers in the UK. Its responsibility is to distribute electricity from the point of generation to homes and businesses.  > READ MORE

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