BP and AeroVironment Launch First FAA-Approved, Commercial Unmanned Aircraft
Operations Over Land and Water; Providing Comprehensive GIS Services
*FAA grants first-ever over-land restricted type certificate to
AeroVironment Puma AE UAS for use in day-to-day operations at the
BP-operated Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska’s North Slope
*BP embraces UAS-based information service to improve productivity, safety
and efficiency; selects AeroVironment for 3D mapping, other services at
North Slope operations over multi-year period
*Imaging and GIS services deliver engineering-quality information safely,
reliably and effectively while helping to protect sensitive North Slope
PRUDHOE BAY, Alaska -- June 10, 2014
AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) today announced that BP Exploration (Alaska)
Inc., selected the company to provide mapping, Geographic Information System
(GIS) and other commercial information services at its Prudhoe Bay oil field,
the largest oil field in North America, for a five-year period.
Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) technology deployed by BP at its Prudhoe Bay
operations in Alaska with ...
Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) technology deployed by BP at its Prudhoe Bay
operations in Alaska with the Puma AE, AeroVironment UAS. Photo courtesy of
The contract marks the first time unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be
performing routine commercial services over land in compliance with Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
AeroVironment deployed a comprehensive information solution incorporating its
proven Puma AE UAS, equipped with either a custom integrated LiDAR (Light
Detection and Ranging) or its standard electro-optical and infrared sensor
payload. The sensor payloads produce imagery and data for processing into 3D
computerized models of roads, pads and pipelines, and other actionable
information, including precision volumetric measurement and topographic
analysis of gravel pits at the North Slope field. Commercial UAS operations
began on June 8, 2014.
“Thanks to the FAA’s rigorous, safety-focused certification process for UAS,
BP and AeroVironment have launched a safer, better and more cost-effective
solution for managing critical infrastructure and resources,” said Tim Conver,
AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer. “BP’s forward-thinking
embrace of UAS technology enabled AeroVironment to deliver a comprehensive
approach for generating, processing and converting data collected by portable
UAS into actionable information that provides tangible economic and
operational advantages. Integrated into BP’s routine operations, this new
solution is now helping BP manage its extensive Prudhoe Bay field operations
in a way that enhances safety, protects the environment, improves productivity
and accomplishes activities never before possible.”
“This is an important achievement for our joint team and for the industry in
demonstrating the safe and effective use of our proven UAS technology for
commercial applications. Our team has established a model for delivering this
flexible and efficient information service, including back office data
processing, to a wide variety of customers and industries throughout the world
for whom better information, safety and reliability matter.”
AeroVironment's extensive operational track record includes the production and
delivery of nearly 25,000 new and replacement small unmanned aircraft with
cumulative flight time estimated at more than one million hours. The company
has delivered its small UAS to customers in the United States and in more than
30 allied nations.
BP’s IT&S Chief Technology Office pursued the application of unmanned aircraft
systems technology to enhance BP’s oil and gas operations. Recent FAA
restricted category aircraft type (RCAT) certificates for Puma AE and a larger
UAS over water were the first for UAS in the national airspace systems (NAS).
BP defined its mapping needs for the Alaska North Slope and issued a request
for information in June 2013 to multiple geographic information system (GIS),
manned and unmanned aircraft systems companies. BP selected AeroVironment’s
response and invited the company to perform a proof-of-concept demonstration.
AeroVironment successfully demonstrated mapping and inspection services
incorporating UAS at the Prudhoe Bay field in September 2013 under a public
certificate of authorization through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. These
services included 3D road mapping, 3D gravel pit volumetric analysis, visual
and 3D pipeline analysis, general topography and environmental monitoring
services, and demonstrated the ability to support wildlife protection, ice
floe monitoring, search and rescue and oil spill response. The team also
demonstrated inspection of critical infrastructure, including flare stacks,
tanks, bridges and power lines.
As part of a comprehensive data collection, processing and reporting solution,
AeroVironment integrated a LiDAR sensor payload into its battery-powered Puma
AE UAS. AeroVironment’s expert UAS operators are now performing photogrammetry
and LiDAR analysis to survey Prudhoe Bay infrastructure including the gravel
roads, pipelines and a gravel pit. The Puma AE’s ability to fly low, at 200 to
400 feet above ground level, and slowly, at less than 40 knots, provides BP
with highly accurate location analytics capabilities to help manage its
complex. The Puma AE is capable of up to 3.5 hours flight time per battery and
has a wingspan of about nine feet.
In one application, surveying the 200 miles of roadways built to support North
Slope activities is critical to the effective operation of the Prudhoe Bay
field. Drill rigs that traverse the roadways span up to 28 feet wide, 132 feet
long and weigh up to 3.5 million pounds, with a driver at each end. The highly
accurate LiDAR-produced maps delivered by AeroVironment’s Puma AE, along with
precision GPS guidance systems, assist drivers in keeping moving drill rigs
centered on the roadways, even in low visibility conditions.
The Puma AE UAS is well suited for operations in highly sensitive ecological
areas because of its electric propulsion, low acoustic signature and small
operating footprint. AeroVironment’s UAS services will help improve the safety
and reliability of BP’s Prudhoe Bay infrastructure and maintenance programs,
which accounts for about two-thirds of Alaska oil production.
AeroVironment is a technology solutions provider that designs, develops,
produces, supports and operates an advanced portfolio of Unmanned Aircraft
Systems (UAS) and electric transportation solutions. The company’s
electric-powered, hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems provide powerful
actionable information to military, public safety and commercial personnel
around the world through real-time, airborne imaging, sensing and
communication. AeroVironment’s electric transportation solutions include a
comprehensive suite of electric vehicle (EV) charging systems, installation
and network services for consumers, automakers, utilities and government
agencies, power cycling and test systems for EV developers and industrial
electric vehicle charging systems for commercial fleets. More information
about AeroVironment is available at www.avinc.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
Certain statements in this press release may constitute "forward-looking
statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made on the basis of current
expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties,
including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and
technological factors outside of our control, that may cause our business,
strategy or actual results to differ materially from those expressed or
implied. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the
forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, our ability to
perform under existing contracts and obtain additional contracts; our reliance
on sales to the U.S. government; changes in the timing and/or amount of
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in the United States and elsewhere in the world. For a further list and
description of such risks and uncertainties, see the reports we file with the
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