Aleksandar Vukojevic / Technology Development Manager and Rodney James / Technology Development Manager

Drones: From Testing to Real-Life Applications

A few years ago, Duke Energy was among a handful of utilities testing what unmanned aerial vehicles (better known as drones) could do for its business.

Through the company’s Emerging Technology Office, Duke Energy looks at budding technologies that may be useful in three to 15 years. It investigates a number of possible scenarios to see if these new technologies can lower costs and allow us to work better and safer.

Many rounds of testing has led the company to believe drones have a future at Duke Energy. Today, drone work is being performed under the company’s Aviation Department, and is proving to be a valuable resource to Duke Energy’s renewable energy program – especially solar power.

Duke Energy looks at budding technologies that may be useful in three to 15 years.

Carrying an infrared camera, drones can spot nonworking solar panels at the company’s facilities, eliminating time-consuming manual examination and leading to speedier repairs.

About 20 Duke Energy employees are now certified to fly drones for the company, which is exploring additional uses for the devices. These include power line inspections, outage restoration and work inside and outside of large power plants.

Keeping up with technology is a challenge for any company. At Duke Energy, careful testing and investigation has the company on top of promising technologies. In the end, it is all about improving safety and operations, and lowering costs.