The rise of drones is paving the way for a new system of security, surveillance and inspection for commercial operations. Organizations are now able to use autonomous drones to provide 24/7 surveillance, inspect where people cannot, and minimize the risk to human life. Add to that the potential to save money on costs and even insurance bills, and it’s an offering piquing the interest of risk managers across industries.
Israel-based Percepto provides an autonomous multi-mission drone offering, currently used predominantly by those in the industrial space, which it says can help improve security, reduce risks and operational costs, and optimize preventative and deterrent maintenance.
Corporate Risk and Insurance spoke to Shirley Salzman, the firm’s marketing director, to find out everything risk managers need to know about the use and the future of drones.
What kind of organizations could benefit from using drones, and why should risk managers consider using them?
Drones are playing a pivotal role in a wide range of businesses, from insurance companies to those in heavy industry such as energy and mining.
The use of drones in industrial sites is already providing safer work environments and reducing the risk of injury or death by performing maintenance and security inspections in harder to reach areas. Without the risk to human life, the pre-programmed drone inspections can also be performed more frequently, insuring that gas/water leak detection and other maintenance abnormalities are recognized faster, potentially mitigating a disaster.
Drones are a huge boon, not only for reducing the risk of injury, but also in providing accurate visuals for accountability when it comes to infrastructure damage. Large scale corporations are benefiting too, using drone surveillance as a means to lower insurance premiums and, ultimately, making a positive dent in the US$2.8 trillion that is spent globally on direct and indirect occupational injuries and illnesses.
How could drones help organizations with their insurance costs?
Although not its initial usage, CCTV became an insurance tool in that it helped reduced premiums. Similarly, in the future, if a site’s infrastructure is monitored three or four times a day by drone inspections, hazards or depreciation would be detected early on, which could become a tool to reduce insurance premiums as well. This would also save insurance claims cost and lower risks to your facility and employees.
How are regulations across the globe affecting the use of drones?
As with all new technologies, development and advancement of the product is the initial primary concern, while regulations and supporting legalities tend to come a little later, just like we saw with autonomous cars.
Customers are great partners in pushing innovation and technology because as soon as they want a certain tool they work on achieving it at their sites with national regulators. Percepto operates worldwide with our customers to demonstrate our autonomous drone capabilities, our safety procedures and to work with specific local adjustments and mitigation if needed. We have been working with several regulatory arms on this exact process.
How does an autonomous drone differ from a standard drone?
An autonomous drone as Percepto defines it, is a drone capable of conducting full flight cycles and missions without the need for any human intervention. The first autonomy layer is the drone navigation, which includes independent take-off, accurate landing, navigation, charging and maintenance. The second layer is the variety of missions. Our drones conduct machine vision-based missions in order to provide our customers with insights from unusual events, as well as any changes to their infrastructure. For instance, if a corrosion or breakage appears on a chimney or a power substation that is still functioning well, our drone would detect the errors and would report it to the relevant teams. Last but not least, integration to legacy sensors defines an autonomous drones. This is very important for the security teams as once someone touches a fence, the drone would get a specific notification and would be dispatched to the location ahead of patrol arrival. It would serve as a deterrence tool, provide a flexible view of the event and chase and track the suspects.
What are the rules around visual line-of-sight?
Up until recently drones have been operated on a 1:1 ratio - one pilot for each drone. Autonomous drones enable drones to fly without a pilot and allow drone operations in more remote locations where visual observance of the drone is unavailable. This allows customers to increase data collection at their site with no additional OPEX or dependency on the team.