FPL will use drones, robots to get your power back faster in a hurricane

Hurricane season 2021: FPL has new technology that can help get restore power quickly
Hurricane season 2021: FPL has new technology that can help get restore power quickly

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – Up in the air, on the ground and ahead of the curve.

Florida Power & Light gave Local 10 News a look at some of its newest technology to make sure that when the power goes out this hurricane season, it won’t go out for long.

“The technology is a game-changer,” FPL CEO Eric Silagy said at the company’s command center in Riviera Beach.

He says they’re always looking at ways to use new technology to make restoration quick.

“We’ll also have people on the ground, but we’re going to be pushing the technology on how we can do this, so we can get out there even faster,” Silagy said. “Speed is everything.”

That includes the use of drones, which can replace “a lot of walking, a lot of driving, a lot of climbing poles” that was necessary in the past, said Michael Dorr, FPL’s senior drone pilot.

He showed us what’s already in the air and also one they’re getting ready to launch.

“What you see here is our Percepto Sparrow System, which we call it ‘drone in a box,’” Dorr said. “These can be positioned at substations, they can even be positioned on trailers, and power plants, solar fields to help us gain that advantage of being able to see from above and identify issues before they cause a power outage.”

And it’s equipped with a thermal camera.

“From a storm response, if power lines are down, you don’t know what might be hot or what might be snakes or gators in some conditions,” Dorr said. “So this just gives us the ability to quickly and effectively see what’s going on before we send our crews out.”

And then there’s “Spot,” FPL’s robodog, which has a thermal camera and a high-resolution camera, allowing workers to see what they couldn’t with the naked eye.

It can also get into areas the land rovers can’t get reach.

“We can send Spot into an area to do an initial assessment instead of putting somebody at risk, and can also do it faster because spot can get into areas that maybe a human couldn’t squeeze into,” Silagy said.

For now, you won’t be spotting Spot. That piece of tech is still in its pilot phase.

But while the real-time technology, drones and robots are pretty cool, they’re not the only thing FPL is testing out.

The company has been putting powerlines underground since 2018 as part of another pilot project.

The goal is to run about 30,000 miles of line underground over the next two decades.

CLICK HERE to view and download our 2021 Hurricane Survival Guide.

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