Research takes flight with NV Energy drone pilot program

NV Energy announced today that with several partners, it has completed a drone pilot program to inspect, collect and analyze data on sections of its transmission and distribution lines. All of the flights were successfully conducted under visual line-of-sight (VLOS) conditions. The data collected was then incorporated into NV Energy’s mapping system and used to determine areas that may need attention.

“This was truly a team effort that’s success can be attributed to the close coordination with NV Energy and the other teammates,” said James Fleitz, Co-founder of AviSight in a press release.

Nearly three years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Nevada as one of six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. NV Energy recognizes the potential this emerging technology has in the utility industry and partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). Together, NIAS and NV Energy conducted a robust multi-tiered screening process to select a team to assist NV Energy in discovering opportunities to implement UAS into utility operations. During this process, there were multiple companies teaming together to present their integrated solution proposal to NV Energy, marking a milestone in the Nevada UAS industry.

“This is the type of teamwork and leadership that will be necessary to propel Nevada as the global location of choice for UAS operations and innovative research and development,” said Chris Walach, Director of Operations for Unmanned Aviation for NIAS.

“The data obtained by these and future operations provide safe, cost effective and innovative data collection through advanced unmanned systems,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America in a press release.

The final team selected was composed of Desert Research Institute (DRI), Drone America and AviSight. Each organization has a specific role:

· AviSight is responsible for the flight operations, data collection and reporting.

· Desert Research Institute (DRI) assists with the analysis of the collected data.

· Drone America provides the drone equipment, including thermal and high-definition sensors together with UAS flight services.

· Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) provides their regulatory expertise to ensure all rules and policies are followed.

“With continued technological advancements, drones could potentially fulfill a large portion of utility inspection needs in the future,” said Mary Simmons, Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy for NV Energy. “NV Energy is proud to support the efforts of this emerging technology in the State of Nevada and committed to finding cost effective ways to inspect and maintain our equipment.”

To learn more, please contact NV Energy’s UAS Project Manager, Cheree Boteler at or 775-834-3755.


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