It’s been over 160 days since Puerto Rico lost power during Hurricane Maria, and many parts of the island are still left in the dark. By far longest blackout in U.S. history, many people are developing creative solutions to fix it, and Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based energy company, to rebuild the island’s energy infrastructure.
Since mid-January, Duke Energy with its 200 volunteers have been clearing fallen power lines and constructing new lines across the island. Repairing fallen power lines is not easy for humans to do, especially in Puerto Rico. First workers have to locate downed lines, which can be tough among debris, fallen trees, and undergrowth. In Puerto Rico, that can also involve hiking through forests, over mountains, and through endless difficult terrain.
Once workers find downed lines they have to string them across the utility poles, which involves attaching weights to those lines and shooting them hundreds of feet in the air. This, also, is not an easy task. Fortunately, the entire process becomes much easier when using drones.
For the past few months, workers have been using five AceCore's Zoe quadcopters to locate fallen power lines across Puerto Rico, and to help repair those lines once they’re found. These Zoe drones—which can carry 26 lbs, fly for 40 minutes, and cost around $15,000 each—can spot fallen lines and thread those lines through the poles, saving volunteers lots of time and money.
For the next several months, Duke Energy volunteers—and their drones—will continue working on getting Puerto Rico's infrastructure up and running. That infrastructure is going to be crucial once summer and hotter temperatures arrive. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they’ll repair all of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, even with their handy drone sidekicks.