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Iris Automation, APS jump-start FAA-approved pipe inspections

Iris Automation is working with Aerial Production Services (APS) to help jump-start FAA-approved pipeline inspections. The two are helping a client switch from satellite and plane images for inspections to high-quality drone images.

As a result of switching over to a drone-only inspection system, the client has improved its inspection frequency by 350% and dramatically reduced associated costs.

To make these pipeline inspection flights possible, a waiver from the FAA was required as it involved flying beyond the pilot’s line of sight. Iris Automation was able to help get the waiver and managed to cut down the wait time by around six months.

Dave Sotiros, CEO of Aerial Production Services (APS), shared:

“While we had the foundational knowledge of how to obtain the BVLOS waiver, we lacked the expertise to properly convey our operation to the FAA. With Iris Automation’s support and knowledge of BVLOS, they took the time to understand our goals and helped us identify areas of improvement and potential gaps in our processes.”

APS is a drone service provider for the telecommunications, natural gas and oil, and construction industries, focusing on providing inspection services for key assets. The company has over 17,000 flights under its name and has flown in 49 states. All of the flights have remained within the pilot’s line of sight, with this one being the first BVLOS flight.

The waiver application was built using Iris Automation’s Regulatory Resource Center (RRC). It creates a robust risk assessment, mitigation, and CONOP package for BVLOS flights to ensure they are conducted in the safest way possible. It also has an online portal to build, test, and audit complex and advanced operational approvals.

Trever Linn, director of airspace integration at Iris Automation, added:

“Accelerating the timeline and reducing the complexity of the waiver process provides a critical business advantage for service providers like APS, allowing them to scale their operations while actually reducing costs and maintaining the highest level of safety. As critical detect and avoid (DAA) technology, standards, and regulations evolve, we’ll see true implementation of advanced unpiloted operations that will use waivers like this to inform equipment, training, and operational requirements within a new regulatory framework.”

Iris Automation is best known for its Casia detect and avoid (DAA) solution. It is the first to be implemented onboard the drone and enables companies to deliver goods via drone safely as the drone won’t crash into other aircraft. The Casia system detects other aircraft flying nearby and classifies them using computer vision algorithms. The system then uses this data to figure out what the drone’s next move should be. If the system decides it’s a threat, the pilot is notified and gains control of the drone to maneuver the drone out of danger.

Photo: Iris Automation

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Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.