Two Oregon utilities are working with a Texas-based robotics company to develop technology that could help stave off wildfires sparked by damaged transmission lines. Brains 4 Drones wants to create Artificial Intelligence for consumer-grade drones to fly over and inspect power lines in remote areas. The goal is to find damage before it sparks a wildfire.

Redmond-based Central Electric Co-op and Consumer Power Co-op outside Corvallis are the only utilities in the nation to offer up a research field. Central Electric’s Brent ten Pas said the two regions offer very different terrain.

“So it allowed them really a two-for-one punch because with our service territories being somewhat close, they can come out, visually inspect lines with their drones, gather data.”

ten Pas said he hopes crews will carry drones in their trucks to inspect and address issues on the spot.

“The goal is to inspect those lines, look for any potential issues and address them before they fail and contribute to the ignition of a wildfire.”

ten Pas added that will also be much cheaper than the current model of hiring a commercial drone pilot. He added they hope to demonstrate their results this fall.

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