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    BP, AeroVironment launch first FAA-approved, UAS over land and water

    In a deal that marks the first time unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will perform routine commercial services over land in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, AeroVironment has been contracted by BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. to provide mapping, Geographic Information System (GIS) and other commercial information services the Prudhoe Bay oil field for a five-year period.

    AeroVironment deployed a comprehensive information solution incorporating its Puma AE UAS, equipped with either a custom integrated LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) or its standard electro-optical and infrared sensor payload.  The sensor payloads produce imagery and data for processing into 3D computerized models of roads, pads and pipelines, and other actionable information, including precision volumetric measurement and topographic analysis of gravel pits at the North Slope field.  Commercial UAS operations began on June 8, 2014.

    “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 CEO. 

    “This is an important achievement for our joint team and for the industry in demonstrating the safe and effective use of our proven UAS technology for commercial applications.  Our team has established a model for delivering this flexible and efficient information service, including back office data processing, to a wide variety of customers and industries throughout the world for whom better information, safety and reliability matter.”

    BP’s IT&S Chief Technology Office pursued the application of unmanned aircraft systems technology to enhance BP’s oil and gas operations.  Recent FAA restricted category aircraft type (RCAT) certificates for Puma AE and a larger UAS over water were the first for UAS in the national airspace systems (NAS).  BP defined its mapping needs for the Alaska North Slope and issued a request for information in June 2013 to multiple geographic information system (GIS), manned and unmanned aircraft systems companies.  BP selected AeroVironment’s response and invited the company to perform a proof-of-concept demonstration.

     

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