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Research Takes Flight with NV Energy Drone Pilot Program

Research Takes Flight with NV Energy Drone Pilot Program

For Immediate Release
Media Contact
Sarah Polito

RENO, Nev. – Nov. 1, 2016 – NV Energy announced today that with several partners, it has completed a UAS pilot program to inspect, collect and analyze data on sections of its transmission and distribution lines. All of the flights were successfully conducted under visual line-of-sight (VLOS) conditions. The data collected was then incorporated into NV Energy’s mapping system and used to determine areas that may need attention.

“This was truly a team effort that’s success can be contributed to the close coordination with NV Energy and the other teammates,” said James Fleitz, Co-founder of AviSight.

Nearly three years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Nevada as one of six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. NV Energy recognizes the potential this emerging technology has in the utility industry and partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). Together, NIAS and NV Energy conducted a robust multi-tiered screening process to select a team to assist NV Energy in discovering opportunities to implement UAS into utility operations. During this process, there were multiple companies teaming together to present their integrated solution proposal to NV Energy, marking a milestone in the Nevada UAS industry.

“This is the type of teamwork and leadership that will be necessary to propel Nevada as the global location of choice for UAS operations and innovative research and development,” said Chris Walach, Director of Operations for Unmanned Aviation for NIAS.

“The data obtained by these and future operations provide safe, cost effective and innovative data collection through advanced unmanned systems,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America.

The final team selected was composed of Desert Research Institute (DRI), Drone America and AviSight. Each organization has a specific role:

  • AviSight is responsible for the flight operations, data collection and reporting.
  • Desert Research Institute (DRI) assists with the analysis of the collected data.
  • Drone America provides the drone equipment, including thermal and high-definition sensors.
  • Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) provides their regulatory expertise to ensure all rules and policies are followed.

“With continued technological advancements, drones could potentially fulfill a large portion of utility inspection needs in the future,” said Mary Simmons, Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy for NV Energy. “NV Energy is proud to support the efforts of this emerging technology in the State of Nevada and committed to finding cost-effective ways to inspect and maintain our equipment.”

To learn more about NV Energy’s UAS pilot program, please contact Cheree Boteler at or 775-834-3755.

About NV Energy, Inc.

NV Energy, Inc. provides a wide range of energy services to 1.3 million customers throughout Nevada

and more than 40 million tourists annually. NV Energy is a holding company whose principal

subsidiaries, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company, are doing business as NV

Energy. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Information about NV Energy is available

on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via

About AviSight

AviSight is an aerospace and remote sensing services company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our

company employs Aerospace systems, Remote Sensing technology, Analytics, and Data

Collection/Distribution systems for commercial and government clients. For more information

about AviSight please visit

About the Desert Research Institute

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a world leader in environmental sciences through the

application of knowledge and technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the

world. Learn more at

About Drone America

Drone America strives to be one of the World’s Top Providers of Autonomous Unmanned

Vehicles, high tech equipment and services. Our mission is to use UAS technologies as a means

to survey, protect, and preserve human life and strategic resources around the Globe. For more

information about Drone America please visit

About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS)

On behalf of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, NIAS helps to grow the

Autonomous Systems Industry through business teaming, partnerships, research and

development, and education awareness in order to bring in business and jobs to the State of

Nevada and to facilitate full and safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System. Learn

more at