back to article French firm notches up 50km unmanned drone inspection flight

A French drone company reckons it has flown a power line inspection drone remotely for 50km (30 miles) – and controlled the aircraft over a public 3G network. Flown to inspect power lines belonging to electricity transmission firm RTE, a drone from Delair Tech was successfully piloted for 50km along a pre-approved route next …

  1. User McUser


    Surely "visual line of sight" is redundant, yes?

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: BVLOS?

      Not really. Line of sight in this instance would refer to a straight line between the operator and the drone. The drone may have moved far enough away that it is not visible to the Mk.1 eyeball, but there may still be an unimpeded direct line between the operator and the drone that could be used for control (e.g. radio).

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: BVLOS?

      Well, the expression "line of sight" is also commonly (mis)used for any number of wireless comms, unredundanting* the "visual".

      The French authority involved, on the other hand, is DGAC, not DGCA

      *my entry for the Ugliest Neologism contest

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge


        My eyes!!

        1. Steve the Cynic

          Re: unredundanting

          "My eyes!!"

          Yeah, that was pretty painful. Well done, OP.

        2. Korev Silver badge

          Re: unredundanting

          I saw a new one today, "This will legitimate you"

          Yes, I'm going to nuke it from orbit, just to be certain ->

      2. Steve the Cynic

        Re: BVLOS?

        "The French authority involved, on the other hand, is DGAC, not DGCA"

        Indeed: Direction générale de l'aviation civile

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BVLOS?

      'Surely "visual line of sight" is redundant, yes?'

      In the context of controlling drones, the key part here is visual, which means that you can see the drone with your eyes. However, whilst you may have control Line-of-Sight to a drone, via its RC link, or in this case via 3G, you may not be able to see it with your eyes because it might be foggy, raining or snowing, or simply because it's night and too dark.

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: BVLOS?

      Perhaps we should retroactively change LoS to stand for Line of Signal, rather than Sight, so it makes more sense when talking about a radio transmission being 'within LoS'?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BVLOS?

      Actually, I thought the preferred phrase was "beyond visual range", aka BVR ...

  2. 0laf Silver badge


    Anything like my 3G/4G provider and the signals to the drone will be delayed 5min - 5hr whilst some electric monkey takes a tea break.

    1. Blotto Silver badge

      Re: 3G

      That's why they are doing this before August.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Flight Corridor

    Power lines?

    Not an issue for general Aviation congestion then, no pilot wants near them anyway, so an ideal application.

    There are also ingenious "robots" that can crawl the live grid cables and others that can add fibre to them. Electricity Network operators seem to be creative geniuses. At college I foolishly thought it would be too boring, not realising:

    1) It's not.

    2) You get to change job too often and have too much pressure on the leading bleeding edge of tech.

    Too late to change my mind now.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Flight Corridor

      > Electricity Network operators seem to be creative geniuses.

      Creative geniuses or completely mad as in this case.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Flight Corridor

        Woah. That drone sure comes in peace.

        Also good against protestors wielding placards with various nonsensical statements.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Flight Corridor

        That flame-thrower drone was interesting. The operator seemed a bit unsure of how to land it considering his confidence demonstrated in burning off the debris though.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flight Corridor

        Loved that ! And just as I started thinking, cool way to light a bar-b-q ... along came their inspired-by footage ....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, in my experience, visual range for a UAV is less than 3 km. We routinely operate beyond 100 km with relatively simple microwave radio systems and HD video. So, the only innovation here is to use the cell phone system, but I bet that their video isn't HD.

  5. Big-nosed Pengie

    Beyond Visual Line of Sight

    No. Just no.

  6. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    An excellent use of a UAV

    I would assume that apart from checking that foliage is not getting too close and for physical damage, it also uses thermal imaging to check for high-resistance joints etc. A great deal of money is spent by utility companies on regular inspections of cables and pipelines by helicopter, so this method should save a fair bit as well.

  7. ChaosFreak


    Why not equip them with ADS-B and traffic avoidance software?

  8. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Now, this IS Powerline Inspection

    and when repairs need to be done, this is how to do it without turning off the power

    Needless to say, don't try this at home

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