Sudbury Hydro tests drone for inspecting power lines

Sudbury Hydro plans to send a battery-powered drone over the Sudbury community of Copper Cliff on Friday.
Sudbury Hydro thinks a drone may be helpful for its fieldwork. Pictured here is a drone and the tablet used to control it. (Supplied/Industrial Sky Works )

Sudbury Hydro plans to send a battery-powered drone over the Sudbury community of Copper Cliff on Friday. 

The utility thinks the unmanned aerial vehicle, comparable to a fancy remote-controlled helicopter, might be a useful tool in its field work.

"We try to be really vigilant about the conditions our lines are in so we can prevent outages as much as possible," said Sudbury Hydro spokesperson Wendy Watson.

"Some of the lines are in forested areas, in back lots, and there might be some hot spots that we can't see with the naked eye."

Sudbury Hydro sent a letter to residents of Copper Cliff to let them know the drone will fly over the community. 

The utility is assuring residents that their privacy will be protected, as the drone will only focus on hydro lines. Any photos taken will not be used to collect personal information, Watson said.

Sudbury Hydro is working with the drone company Industrial Sky Works to capture images of the power lines in Copper Cliff.

"Privacy is a real issue," said Industrial Sky Works President Michael Cohen. "We video tape from above. It's important to note we look straight down. So our business is looking at infrastructure rather that collecting any personal information."

Watch a video from the company Industrial Sky Works that describes the kind of information the drone can gather for utility companies:

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