AeroVironment UAS performing commercial oil field tasks

AeroVironment, a maker of unmanned aerial systems, says its Puma AE aircraft is performing routine commercial services, such as mapping, in Alaska for an oil company under a five-year contract.
By Richard Tomkins  |  June 11, 2014 at 11:56 AM
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PRUDHOE BAY, Alaska, June 11 (UPI) -- An unmanned aerial system is performing routine commercial services in Alaska for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. for the next five years.

AeroVironment said the contract for mapping and other commercial information services at the Prudhoe Bay oil field is the first such contract in the United States and complies with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

"Thanks to the FAA's rigorous, safety-focused certification process for UAS, BP and AeroVironment have launched a safer, better and more cost-effective solution for managing critical infrastructure and resources," said Tim Conver, AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer. "BP's forward-thinking embrace of UAS technology enabled AeroVironment to deliver a comprehensive approach for generating, processing and converting data collected by portable UAS into actionable information that provides tangible economic and operational advantages.

"Integrated into BP's routine operations, this new solution is now helping BP manage its extensive Prudhoe Bay field operations in a way that enhances safety, protects the environment, improves productivity and accomplishes activities never before possible."

AeroVironment has deployed its Puma AE UAS -- equipped with either a custom integrated LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging system or its standard electro-optical and infrared sensor payload -- for the work, which began earlier this month.

Last year it successfully demonstrated its mapping and inspection services at the oil field through the use of an unmanned aerial system under a public certificate of authorization through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The sensors produce imagery and data for processing into 3D, computerized models of roads, pads and pipelines. Included is volumetric measurement and topographic analysis information on gravel pits.

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