Ameren Illinois to utilize drones in southern IL

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Ameren Illinois is starting to incorporate unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones, in their daily operations.

If there is an outage, the drones help identify the outage or the location of the problem.

There are only 18 certified pilots in Illinois that can work the drones. Kyle Maxwell, Superintendent of Electric Operations, talked about its benefits and your worries.

"One we want to spread the awareness that Ameren Illinois is using drones and number two, it's only to the customer's benefit. We should be able to mitigate problems quicker by utilizing them," Maxwell said. "We have very few lines that run over somebody house. So we're going to be on our utility easements where our problem lies."

From observing damage after a storm to surveying terrain and inspecting thousands of miles of poles, power lines and natural gas facilities, drones provide a safe and effective way to pinpoint where Ameren Illinois crews should be dispatched to perform work.

Some of the challenges Ameren face are not being able to fly the drones within five miles of airport and staying up to date with the evolving technology.

Ameren is looking to put infrared cameras on the drones next.

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