News Releases

Research Takes Flight with NV Energy Drone Pilot Program

Nov 1, 2016

RENO, Nev. – Nov. 1, 2016 - NV Energy announced today that with several partners, it has completed a drone pilot program to inspect, collect and analyze data on sections of its transmission and distribution lines. All of the flights were successfully conducted under visual line-of-sight (VLOS) conditions. The data collected was then incorporated into NV Energy’s mapping system and used to determine areas that may need attention.

“This was truly a team effort that’s success can be attributed to the close coordination with NV Energy and the other teammates,” said James Fleitz, Co-founder of AviSight.

Nearly three years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Nevada as one of six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. NV Energy recognizes the potential this emerging technology has in the utility industry and partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). Together, NIAS and NV Energy conducted a robust multi-tiered screening process to select a team to assist NV Energy in discovering opportunities to implement UAS into utility operations. During this process, there were multiple companies teaming together to present their integrated solution proposal to NV Energy, marking a milestone in the Nevada UAS industry.

“This is the type of teamwork and leadership that will be necessary to propel Nevada as the global location of choice for UAS operations and innovative research and development,” said Chris Walach, Director of Operations for Unmanned Aviation for NIAS.

“The data obtained by these and future operations provide safe, cost effective and innovative data collection through advanced unmanned systems,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America.

The final team selected was composed of Desert Research Institute (DRI), Drone America and AviSight. Each organization has a specific role:

  • AviSight is responsible for the flight operations, data collection and reporting.
  • Desert Research Institute (DRI) assists with the analysis of the collected data.
  • Drone America provides the drone equipment, including thermal and high-definition sensors together with UAS flight services.
  • Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) provides their regulatory expertise to ensure all rules and policies are followed.

“With continued technological advancements, drones could potentially fulfill a large portion of utility inspection needs in the future,” said Mary Simmons, Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy for NV Energy. “NV Energy is proud to support the efforts of this emerging technology in the State of Nevada and committed to finding cost-effective ways to inspect and maintain our equipment.”

To learn more, please contact NV Energy’s UAS Project Manager, Cheree Boteler at or 775-834-3755.


About NV Energy

NV Energy, Inc. provides a wide range of energy services to 1.3 million customers throughout Nevada and more than 40 million tourists annually. NV Energy is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company, are doing business as NV Energy. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Information about NV Energy is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via

About AviSight

AviSight is an aerospace and remote sensing services company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our company employs Aerospace systems, Remote Sensing technology, Analytics, and Data Collection/Distribution systems for commercial and government clients. For more information about AviSight please visit

About the Desert Research Institute

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a world leader in environmental sciences through the application of knowledge and technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world. Learn more at

About Drone America

Drone America strives to be one of the World’s Top Providers of Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles, high tech equipment and services. Our mission is to use UAS technologies as a means to survey, protect, and preserve human life and strategic resources around the Globe. For more information about Drone America please visit

About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS)

On behalf of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, NIAS helps to grow the Autonomous Systems Industry through business teaming, partnerships, research and development, and education awareness in order to bring in business and jobs to the State of Nevada and to facilitate full and safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System. Learn more at


For further information: Sarah Polito, NV Energy 775-834-3891,