Verizon deploys distant network-connected drone throughout Large Hole Wildfire – Drones Information
The Federal Aviation Administration grants a special waiver to allow civil operations to inspect critical communications infrastructures in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Skyward, a Verizon company, a temporary waiver that allows corporate pilots to fly the Percepto Sparrow drone from their homes to inspect critical communications infrastructures near the Big Hollow wildfire in Washington. The waiver allows operation 24 hours a day with a visibility of less than 5 km and without a pilot or observer on site.
In the face of multiple natural disasters in the United States, the ability to safely inspect sites that support critical communications for first responders has never been more important or necessary.
“At a time when we are facing the dangerous consequences of climate change and managing a global pandemic, maintaining the Verizon network has never been more important,” said Rima Qureshi, Verizon’s chief strategy officer. “Innovations in air technology have improved our ability to inspect our sites without endangering engineers and to provide reliable communication for our first responders. We applaud the FAA’s swift action in granting the waiver, which will enable us to deploy a network-connected drone and safely and effectively deliver critical services. “
Although the FAA may grant “Beyond Line of Sight” (BVLOS) exemptions to companies demonstrating that they can fly safely, an on-site pilot or visual observer was generally still required. In preparation for such crises, Skyward has tested for almost a year and proven that it can fly safely without staff on site. In addition to the groundbreaking nature of the flight, the waiver itself is a milestone for the remote use of drones in the USA.
“We have developed a BVLOS feature that consists of a remotely deployable drone system, weather monitoring systems such as those used at airports, the Skyward Aviation Management Platform and state-of-the-art flight safety systems that allow us to check the surrounding airspace for other aircraft,” said Skywards Director for Aviation development centers named X. “Verizon’s 4G LTE network connected these systems and gave the team’s operations manager in Alaska a near real-time view of operations from 1,600 miles away. “
The waiver was granted under the FAA’s accelerated Special Governmental Interest process. The waiver applies to drone support operations for critical infrastructures that maintain communications for rescue workers and extends through Friday, September 25th.
As of September 9, the Big Hollow Fire has burned more than 24,000 acres and generated mandatory evacuation orders in the area. The location of the critical communications infrastructure itself is within blocks of a level 1 evacuation order and the air quality was unsafe for humans. Through this process, Verizon engineers not only could confirm that the integrity and health of the infrastructure was not compromised, but they could do so without putting people at risk.
Verizon continues to closely monitor dozens of wildfires in the western United States, and our network is currently operating well with no significant impact.
Our Verizon Response Team (VRT) is available 24/7 to provide first aiders with emergency assistance when needed. We mobilize charging stations, WiFi hotspots, devices, specialty equipment, emergency vehicles and more to support local, state, and federal agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was founded on June 30, 2000 and celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products and services. Verizon is headquartered in New York City and has a global presence. In 2019, Verizon had sales of $ 131.9 billion. The company provides data, video, and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms to reliably meet customer demands for mobility – network connectivity, security, and control.