Stephen Cross is in his first job out of college - a dream job for him. Florida Power and Light handed him the keys to a drone, one of the tools the company will use to help get power restored faster in storms.
“We utilize the UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) technology, drones, for inspection and primarily seeing into inaccessible locations,” said Cross.
The drones hold lightweight cameras that send back live images into disaster command centers.
“The drones allowed us to take a look into those locations, identify any issue, report that immediately to the incident commander and then send the right team with the right equipment to remedy the issue,” Cross said.
The ground teams then know what equipment to take and from the images know the hazards.
Florida Power and Light now has 11 of these unmanned aircrafts and they’re assigned to quick special response teams that can be deployed anywhere in South Florida or across the state when a storm is approaching.
“Once we arrive at a location, we can get the aircraft within the air within about 10 minutes,” Cross said.
In the winter, the FAA released new regulations for unmanned aircrafts that opened the door for FPL to put the drones into action more.
The unmanned aircrafts can also reduce the likelihood of injury to emergency responders and FPL’s own teams, according to FPL.
The drones are just one element of FPL’s overall plan to keep the power on. By the end of 2017, officials say teams will have reinforced every line running to hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, police and fire stations in South Florida.