Drone Companies Team up to Service North Dakota Oil Patch

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MINOT, N.D. (AP) — A Norway-based manufacturer and a Scandinavian technology company have been teaming up with a North Dakota drone operation to service the region’s utility and oil and gas customers.

Robot Aviation, a manufacturing company based in Poland, and eSmart, a software company founded in Norway, are partnering with SkySkopes, a Grand Forks drone-piloting company that recently opened an office in Minot. The three businesses are aiming to provide customers with the hardware, software and operators to deliver unmanned aerial technology, the Minot Daily News reported.

ESmart has developed software to analyze data collection from unmanned aerial systems. The company joined forces with SkySkopes after Hurricane Irma in Florida to do damage assessments in the Jacksonville area for JEA, the eighth largest municipal electric company in the country and largest in the state of Florida.

JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said the drones were able to assess the damage in 24 hours when it normally takes many days.

“It has been invaluable,” Boyce said. “We can’t wait, No. 1, to get through this, and No. 2, to see the significant impact using drones has made in the assessment and recovery for our area.”

ESmart used its new mobile command vehicle, Thundercloud, to help the SkySkopes pilots get into position to fly the drones. The high-tech pickup truck features a mobile launching pad that allows drones to take off from a moving vehicle.

“It is great to bring these capabilities to Florida in the wake of such terrible tragedy in the form of Hurricane Irma,” said Matt Dunlevy, SkySkopes president and CEO.

Dunlevy said the drones will be used to inspect oil facilities and power lines in the North Dakota oil patch.

Robot Aviation spokesman Bjorn Forsdal said North Dakota is an important market.

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