AT&T recently announced that its earlier drone trials were successful and that it will start to use drones for its own tower operations by the end of September. This marks another step in UAVs’ expansion across industries and sectors worldwide.
During the trials, AT&T found that drones were especially useful at being surrogate tower climbers, as the drones allowed AT&T personnel to perform a larger portion of their work firmly from the ground. Art Pregler, drone program director at AT&T, showed the usefulness of drones in a video showcasing their use of the DJI Inspire 1. Using the industry leading DJI Inspire 1, AT&T confirmed that drones can improve both work safety and efficiency.
“Every time we use a drone it’s just one less tower climb,” Pregler said, commenting on how the drones had ramped up safety measures adding, “every tower climb that we can save provides a safer situation, or less opportunity for potential injury.”
This correlates with many drone industry insiders opinion that most industries built around vertical infrastructures will soon be using drones for inspection purposes. When speaking of the improvements he had witnessed from using drones during trial runs, Pregler stated, “we’re seeing very accurate results from this data. We obtain it faster and we obtain it with more accuracy than we’ve been able to do with traditional methods.”
AT&T’s video shows how tower technicians can communicate directly with the Inspire 1 pilot while viewing a live feed from the drone, allowing them to efficiently direct the pilot to better assess problem areas.
In addition to using drones for installations, inspections and repairs, AT&T noted that they even found drones useful for bird nest evaluations. Currently, AT&T has issues repairing or inspecting towers if there is active nesting by a protected bird species.
Often, tower climbers ascend unaware that a rare species of bird is actively nesting. When they reach the top, at which point climbers might have already disrupted the nest or aggravated an aggressive bird. Since the Inspire 1 is able to approach towers without putting stress on the tower itself, it is better able to spot protected species and are less likely to aggravate nesting birds.
You can view AT&T’s video showcasing the Inspire 1 for tower inspections here: A Bird’s Eye View of AT&T’s Drone Inspection Program
You can learn more about using DJI solutions for inspections here: Building & Infrastructure Uses