Drones to be used for oil spill monitoring in Arctic

Remote controlled unmanned aircraft, commonly known as “drones,” have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for use in Alaska. Conoco Phillips received the approval to use the drones to monitor for oil spills and observe wildlife off the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic Circle.

“Aerial observation missions can now be safely accomplished in hazardous Arctic locations, which will reduce the risk of manned aviation in an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner,” said Tim Conver, chairman and chief executive officer of AeroVironment, the company who makes the approved drone, in a press release from the company. “We believe initial operations in the Arctic can lead to long-term broad adoption for similar applications elsewhere in the United States and throughout the world.”

The drones were expected to be used for the first time in August to survey “ocean ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas,” according to the administration, however Conoco Phillips recently told Petroleum News that they are not quite ready to begin using the drones.

This is the first approved commercial use of drones in the U.S. by a private company.

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