R-SYS participated in the first autonomous BVLOS inspection flight in Slovakia

On 22.5.2024 the first autonomous drone flight without visual contact in Slovakia took place, organized by Východoslovenská Energetika Holding,a.s. – Východoslovenská distribučná (VSD). R-SYS participated in this unique flight by providing position and data display from the drone using the Authority console of the IXO UTM system.

The course of the autonomous flight

The automation of drone operations is a trend that opens new doors to the potential of unmanned systems. The advantages of using drones without visual contact are also realized by Východoslovenská distribučná (VSD) – a company that manages thousands of kilometers of power lines in Slovakia. That is why it organised the first demonstration flight by a drone to inspect high-voltage power lines in a designated location. Its implementation was made possible by an operating permit from the Transport Authority of the Slovak Republic (the first of its kind in the country), whose representatives were also present at the event.

The mission planning and flight execution was provided by the event partner – Zephyr UAS. The drone (DJI Dock) took off from the Lemešany power station and during the 9km flight performed an inspection of 21 high voltage poles. The drone flew along a pre-planned route and collected visual data from each pole. These were then analysed and processed by AI.

The flight was controlled from the VSD control room in Košice, approximately 20km away from the take-off point. Its progress was controlled by an operator who could take over manual control at any stage. As part of safety, the drone’s reactions to unforeseen events, such as loss of signal or adverse weather conditions, were planned and prepared in advance.

Real-time data from the drone

The drone was equipped with the LTE remote identification module Dronetag, which cooperates with the Authority console of the IXO UTM (Mam Dron) system developed by our company. Participants in the control room could thus monitor the location and other data transmitted from the drone in real time on a map background. Our colleague Pavol Serbín explained other possibilities of the IXO UTM web console, such as creating drone/no-drone zones, displaying data using Network/Direct ID, or calculating conflicts with non-flight zones.

The first flight without visual contact naturally attracted the interest of the media, which reported its results to the public. The communication of the event was also supported by the Mám Dron Association, which works closely with R-SYS to educate UAS pilots and promote the MamDron information system.

The inspection flight was also supported by an accompanying programme held in Lemešany. It included a drone competition Dronved 2024 and excursions in the premises of the electrical station.

On behalf of R-SYS, we would like to thank VSD for allowing us to be part of this unique mission that demonstrated and showcased the capabilities of today’s unmanned technologies for streamlining operations not only in the energy sector, but in many other areas of industry and services.