Southern Company announced that it will be expanding its drone program through a partnership with Skyward, a Verizon company advancing drone fleet management solutions and research and development. Southern Company and its affiliates were among the first energy companies to use drones across its business to aid in remote inspection, wire transport and damage recovery assessments, among other tasks.
“Southern Company is proud to build the future of energy, and deploying new technologies keeps us in the forefront of the industry. We chose Skyward because we needed a partner with roots in aviation and computer science, as well as the depth of regulatory knowledge, to improve efficiency in managing our extensive nation-wide operations,” said Dean Barefield, Southern Company UAS Program Manager. “Using Skyward, we are excited to unlock use cases for flying beyond visual line of sight and capturing the full potential of drone technology. We’ve already proven strong ROI using drones and partnering with Skyward is the next step to furthering our leadership in the energy industry.”
As the first utility to submit a section 333 exemption, Southern Company has been employing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology since 2015. Operating a self-dispatched model, Southern Company maintains a fleet of more than 50 aircraft and 60 remote pilots across its business units with use cases in generation, distribution, transmission and storm damage assessment and response. Through the partnership, Southern Company will further develop their internal command and control application as they posture for the future beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) environment.
“Southern Company is leading the energy industry in deploying state-of-the-art drone operations technology and innovating their processes. Skyward is proud to help Southern Company fly in more ways and in more places and looks forward to continuing R&D work,” said Mariah Scott, Skyward President.