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Delek US Holdings received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights with its Percepto drones at refineries in Tyer, Texas and El Dorado, Arkansas.
The approval allows the autonomous drones to fly without a pilot maintaining line of sight with the drone in its downstream energy operations.
“This approval to use autonomous drone technology is a huge step forward towards cleaner and safer refineries within the oil and gas industry,” Percepto CEO Dor Abuhasira said. “Congratulations to Delek US for being pioneers in digital transformation, and implementing new procedures within an industry that has been seeking new solutions to old problems.”
Delek uses Percepto’s autonomous drones to maintain remote operations 24/7. Delek has been able to automate day-to-day operations and conduct aerial surveillance and inspections in its facilities with the drones.
The drones are managed by Percepto’s Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring (AIM) platform, an end-to-end visual data management solution. The system works with any visual sensor or camera, and can be used with existing drones or robots to perform autonomous tasks.
“Percepto’s end-to-end system supports our environmental, social and governance goals to deliver safe and reliable autonomous drones that can be operated remotely while in compliance with US FAA regulations,” Delek’s senior vice president of business transformation Grigor Bambekov said. “By working in partnership with Percepto, Delek US is gaining more effective, efficient, reliable, and profitable utilization of its assets through the next generation of Industry 4.0 drone ecosystems.”
Percepto’s drones have achieved BVLOS approvals across five continents. Its drones were used by Verizon to inspect critical communications infrastructure during the U.S. wildfires in 2020. Percepto has also worked with Florida Power and Light and Koch Industries.
The company works closely with regulators. In July 2021, the FAA added Percepto to its BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee. Percepto is one of six autonomous drone manufacturers to join.
In early 2021, Marlborough, Mass.-based American Robotics became the first company approved for BVLOS flights by the FAA. Its drone system, Scout, is designed for data gathering applications in industrial, agricultural and governmental settings. Scout consists of a fully autonomous drone with imaging payloads, a base station for housing, charging, data processing, and cloud transfer, and an analytics and front-end software package.