Sharper Shape, a supplier of UAV-based asset management solutions for utilities, has announced that the company has received approval from the civil aviation regulatory authority in Finland for large scale UAV flights Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS). This approval will make it the first UAV company enabled to fly long distance powerline inspections with an advanced sensor system including LiDAR and high resolution cameras.
“This is an important milestone for us – and for the UAV industry as a whole – as it enables more efficient operations and more applications. The limitations to restrict the flights only to Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) prevented many important UAV applications, including surveys of large areas, inspections over thousands of miles of pipeline, and many security applications. BVLOS operations will unblock all these opportunities. We expect other civil aviation authorities to follow the lead and to increasingly enable BVLOS operations for companies, which focus on aviation safety and have built both their technology and processes to the highest safety requirements,” said Mr. Tero Heinonen, the founder of Sharper Shape.
Sharper Shape has been approved to deploy its Next Eagle® UAV, which can handle an 8kg (18 pound) payload capacity and has a flight capability of up to 1 hour with a 6kg payload. The Next Eagle® is equipped with an HD video link between the UAV and the operator, as well as an integrated multi-sensor system that includes high-performance LiDAR, high-precision IMU, a multi GNSS receiver and high-resolution full-frame cameras.
“Our advanced capabilities and BVLOS flights enable Sharper Shape to perform asset inspections more efficiently than any other method before. One flight over assets will provide all the required information for component inspection, vegetation management, and corridor clearance management”, says Tero Heinonen.
Sharper Shape expects the demand for its services to grow dramatically in the immediate future, with more and more utilities worldwide adopting UAVs for inspection and maintenance purposes. In addition to power lines, critical assets like oil and gas pipelines, railways, and forests can benefit from the fast, very accurate and cost competitive services enabled by Next Eagle®.
“Sharper Shape’s offering helps utilities to have increased control on their asset infrastructure, drastically improving the cost efficiency and electricity supply security, and also to limit the length of power outages”, said Tero Heinonen. “We are delighted to be in the frontline of helping regulators establishing the framework for large scale commercial UAV operations. The existing permission is limited, but we are positive of the future extensions of the permit based on our safety centric operations and operational track record”.