Drones and AI: Future is now for SCE’s aerial inspections

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Taken from a drone, this photo reveals a cross-arm degraded by the environment and by woodpeckers, quickly recognizable by artificial intelligence that would not have been viewable from ground inspection. Valley News/SCE photo
Paul Netter Energized by Edison Writer Drones are rapidly transforming industries like package delivery, agriculture and even real estate. Electric utilities are no exception, and Southern California Edison is setting the pace among California’s utilities. Its drone program is maximizing the technology with its more than 200,000 annual inspections of electrical infrastructure in high fire risk areas as part of its Wildfire Mitigation Plan. Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, have become irreplaceable in performing inspections of the more than 400,000 poles, transformers and lines in SCE’s high fire risk areas or about 27% of its 50,000 square mile service area. Aerial inspections in these areas are now done 75% by drones and 25% by helicopters when just a year
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