Lately, it seems like articles on drones have dominated our news feed. From new uses to new models, there is never a shortage of stories on those little unmanned aerial vehicles. So what’s the latest? Apparently, drones are leaving their mark on the solar power industry.
In an article for Greentech Media, writer Julia Pyper discussed a recent partnership between Drone Deploy, a cloud software platform for commercial drones, and DJI, one of the leading drone makers, that is “expected to dramatically increase the efficiency of solar panel installation and inspection using drone-based thermal imagery capture and analytics.”
With a few taps on a smartphone, writes Pyper, solar installers can automatically fly the drone and collect data that is sent to DroneDeploy. The technology “reduces the amount time workers spend on roofs, reduces the potential for measurement errors, and simplifies the maintenance of existing systems.” So what does that mean for solar customers? Cheaper installation costs. Additionally, on-board thermal imagery can ensure that equipment is in the best position for maximum production, says Pyper.
Other utility companies, including Duke Energy, are using drones for similar applications, writes Pyper. The company is currently testing how infrared cameras mounted to drones can “help detect malfunctions in solar panels and enable faster repairs.” Additionally, drones can be used in the wind sector. Rather than stringing them up with wires and hanging them from wind turbines to check for imperfections, drones can be deployed to get close-up 3D images of wind blades without stopping them from turning.
Currently, drone manufacturers and utility companies are working with the FAA to have certain restrictions lifted, unlocking the potential of drones in these industries.
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