April 22, 2024

Skydio & The GRIP Grant – A Powerhouse Partnership for Grid Modernization

Skydio Logo


Smart asset management

The GRIP Grant Unveiled

Over the past decade, we have seen substantial impacts to America’s grid infrastructure due to the combination of more extreme climate challenges and increasing energy demands. In response to these events, Congress tasked the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) with initiating the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) grant, an ambitious program that aims to modernize the American electrical grid while simultaneously making it more resilient to the changing climate and increasing demand by awarding billions of dollars to electric utilities across the nation. At the same time, Skydio, a leader in AI-powered drone technology, is revolutionizing how these same electric utilities inspect, monitor, and maintain their energy infrastructure.

Included as part of the 2021 national infrastructure law, the GRIP grant is designed to enhance grid flexibility and improve the resilience and reliability of the power system against growing threats of extreme weather and climate change. With a total of approximately $10.5 billion in funding, GRIP targets improvements that enhance the efficiency and reliability of the nation's electrical systems.

Skydio’s Strategic Role

Skydio’s suite of drones and AI analytics tools are at the forefront of grid modernization and resilience by enabling a path to condition-based maintenance. These technologies not only help utilities monitor their vast infrastructures more efficiently but also play a critical role in incident response, offering quick and reliable data that can guide emergency actions and recovery efforts.

Solar panel inspection

Skydio has already demonstrated its capability to support utilities in regulatory and compliance aspects, offering substantial support in FAA waiver approvals and similar regulatory challenges.

By partnering with utilities like PG&E, BGE, and AEP, Skydio has enhanced asset management and emergency response strategies, which are pivotal in securing GRIP grants. These partnerships underscore Skydio’s commitment to aligning with utility providers’ long-term operational goals and compliance needs.

1. FAA Waiver Approvals and Compliance Mastery

Navigating the regulatory landscape of drone operations can be one of the biggest challenges for utilities. Skydio has successfully aided utilities in securing necessary FAA waivers, allowing for more flexible and extensive use of drone technology in complex environments. These waivers are crucial for utilities operating in densely populated areas or near critical infrastructure, where standard drone operations might otherwise be restricted.

For instance, our assistance with FAA Part 107 waivers has enabled utilities like PG&E and NYPA to conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. This capability is critical for comprehensive inspections of remote or difficult-to-access infrastructure, enhancing the utility’s ability to monitor their systems without the need for costly and risky manned aircraft operations.

2. Strategic Asset Management and Incident Response

Skydio’s partnership approach goes beyond compliance, focusing also on strategic asset management and enhanced incident response strategies. For BGE, we have implemented a suite of drone solutions tailored to improve the efficiency and safety of their operations. This includes the use of Skydio drones for regular inspections of electrical lines and equipment, reducing the manpower and time typically required for these tasks while increasing the frequency and detail of inspections. The data captured by our drones aids in predictive maintenance strategies, allowing BGE to address potential issues before they lead to system failures or outages.

Moreover, in emergency scenarios, such as natural disasters or system malfunctions, the rapid deployment of drones have provided BGE with immediate aerial assessments. This capability is instrumental in quickly determining the impact of the incident, planning the response, and minimizing downtime, thereby safeguarding the infrastructure and ensuring continued service to customers.Enhanced Operational Capabilities with AEP

American Electric Power (AEP) has leveraged Skydio drones to enhance their operational capabilities significantly. The integration of drones into their maintenance routines has transformed how they inspect and manage their vast network, and as they manage over 220,000 miles of electric transmission lines and 5000 substations, increases in efficiencies multiply the efficiency of their workforce.

Furthermore, drone technology supports AEP’s vegetation management programs. Drones equipped with advanced sensors assess the proximity of vegetation to power lines, which is a common cause of power outages. This assessment helps AEP in prioritizing and managing vegetation trimming operations more effectively, ensuring the reliability of their service and reducing the risk of fire hazards.

3. Commitment to Long-term Success

Skydio’s commitment to aligning with the long-term operational goals and compliance needs of utility providers is evident in our ongoing support and continuous improvement of our technologies. We actively work with our partners like PG&E, NYPA, and AEP to evolve our offerings based on their feedback and the changing dynamics of the utility industry. This collaborative approach ensures that our drone solutions are not only cutting-edge but also perfectly suited to meet the specific needs of the utility sector.

By focusing on both regulatory support and operational enhancement, Skydio not only aids utilities in meeting current compliance and management standards but also equips them to face future challenges with confidence and resilience. Our partnership strategy underscores a deep commitment to the long-term success and sustainability of utility operations, making Skydio an integral part of the modern utility ecosystem.

Why Choose Skydio

Our commitment to the utility sector is deep-rooted. We understand the challenges utilities face—from aging infrastructure to regulatory pressures—and we tailor our technology to meet these specific needs. Our proactive asset inspection solutions and emergency response support form a holistic approach to infrastructure management, ensuring utilities are always one step ahead.

Skydio’s drones are not just tools but solutions that integrate seamlessly with utility operations to provide tailored solutions for asset monitoring. Our drones offer unparalleled data accuracy, autonomous operational capabilities, and robust integration with existing IT ecosystems. This allows for real-time analytics and decision-making support, crucial for both routine maintenance and rapid emergency response.

As we move through the grant’s multiple phases, American hardware vendors and technology providers like Skydio stand ready to support these enhancements, ensuring that the latest advancements in technology are leveraged.

Asset health monitoring system

Preparing for GRIP Grant Success

1. Understanding Drone Integration in Utility Operations

Integrating drone technology requires careful planning and assessment of existing infrastructure. Utilities should begin by identifying key areas where drone deployment can enhance efficiency and reliability. This might include evaluating the compatibility of current systems with new technologies and preparing for integration by training staff and updating internal processes.

2. Strategies for Effective Drone Technology Adoption

Effective drone integration goes beyond initial implementation; it requires a tailored approach that respects the unique challenges and needs of each utility. An integration plan might include stages such as pilot testing to assess technology impact, followed by a phased rollout that includes training for operational staff and integration with existing IT systems. This approach ensures not just adoption but also optimal utilization of the technology.

3. Ensuring Long-term Benefits from Drone Deployments

To fully benefit from drone technology, utilities should ensure they have access to ongoing support and optimization. This involves regular updates to software and hardware, proactive system monitoring, and analytical support to interpret data collected during operations. These steps help utilities not only maintain but also enhance their infrastructure management practices.

4. Adapting Drone Solutions to Meet Evolving Demands

As utilities grow and evolve, so must the technologies they employ. Scalable drone solutions can adapt to changing demands and expanding infrastructural needs. This section could explore how modular drone systems can be scaled up or adapted to meet new regulatory requirements or to expand into new service areas.

5. Building Proficiency in Drone Operations

It's crucial for utility personnel to be well-versed in managing and utilizing drone technology. Comprehensive training sessions, detailed resource materials, and regular workshops can empower staff, ensuring they are proficient and confident in using this technology. This educational focus helps utilities maximize the impact of their technological investments.

6. Collaborating to Navigate Regulatory Requirements

Implementing new technologies often involves navigating complex regulatory landscapes. Utilities should seek drone vendors that not only provide advanced technology but also have a deep understanding of regulatory affairs, including FAA regulations and local compliance requirements. This partnership is crucial for ensuring that drone operations are both effective and compliant.

Enhancing Grid Resilience with Drone Technology

Drone technology offers a significant opportunity to enhance grid modernization and resilience. Utilities interested in leveraging this technology should consider how it fits into their larger strategy for infrastructure management and resilience planning. By understanding and implementing advanced drone solutions, utilities can improve efficiency, enhance safety, and better prepare for future challenges.

The GRIP grant presents a transformative opportunity for U.S. utilities. In Skydio, utilities have a partner with the technology, expertise, and proven track record to maximize this opportunity. By leveraging our AI-driven drone solutions, utilities can not only meet the immediate terms of the GRIP grant but also lay down the foundation for a future where grid resilience and efficiency are significantly enhanced.

Contact Skydio to discuss how our drone solutions can bolster your GRIP grant application and enhance your grid modernization projects.

Skydio training

About Skydio

Skydio provides fully integrated, remotely operated, and/or fully automated end-to-end solutions for monitoring asset health. By harnessing the latest trends in AI and drone technology, Skydio is not just providing utilities with a tool for data capture but is offering a comprehensive platform for enhanced decision-making and strategic asset management. As utilities continue to embrace these technological advancements, Skydio stands ready to support them in maximizing their potential, ensuring a future where maintenance is predictive, efficient, and safety-focused.Learn more about Skydio drones for utility asset inspection and monitoring.

What team would you like to contact today?