Percepto, an autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, said that Transport Canada has approved Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to operate a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone without a visual observer on site. Approval is thought to be a first in Canada and will take place at McConnell Lake Control Dam.
A BVLOS Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) was issued for the Percepto Air Max autonomous drone-in-a-box to perform remote inspections in a pilot project starting in January.
The McConnell Lake Control Dam was completed in 1949 on the Ottawa River as an auxiliary dam associated with the 429 MW Des Joachims hydroelectric generating station. The dam was constructed at the upper end of the river channel to bypass excess flow. McConnell Lake Dam is 95 m long, with a maximum height of 37 m.
Use of the drone at this OPG facility its expected to provide the benefits of remote, high-frequency visual inspection with actionable insights, with the possibility to centrally control drone fleets at multiple sites, Percepto said. It also will lay the groundwork for similar automated BVLOS SFOCs for other Percepto customers in Canada. The announcement came shortly after Percepto received a U.S. nationwide BVLOS waiver.
Percepto said its automated drone-in-a-box technology has been deployed by electric utilities to monitor the durability of power grid infrastructure and detect problems, enabling faster response times and restoring power quicker after storms and other disasters.
Percepto operations will be coordinated through the company’s Autonomous Inspection and Monitoring (AIM) equipment. The equipment enables drones to be operated remotely to better ensure they work in sync, according to a release.
“We look forward to gaining new operation and infrastructure insights at McConnell Lake Control Dam,” said Ontario Power Generation Senior Information System Specialist Tim Trebilcock. “Our hope is that this technology will help our efforts to ensure asset integrity and reliable electricity generation for Ontarians.”
OPG provides almost half the power for Canada’s largest province through one of the most diverse generating portfolios in North America. The company owns and operates 66 hydroelectric, two nuclear and two thermal generating stations, as well as one solar facility. OPG also operates four natural gas-fired generating stations and owns and operates 86 hydroelectric stations in the U.S. under the Eagle Creek Renewable Energy banner.