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March 18, 2021

AltaLink and FulcrumAir collaborate to become first in the world to use robotic technology aimed at improving bird safety

CALGARY, ALBERTA (Globe Newswire – March 18, 2021) – Today, a new robot deployed by AltaLink and FulcrumAir used to install bird markers took flight at AltaLink’s Bardo Substation near Leduc.

It’s the first time a utility in the world has used this type of technology to install bird markers.

The new installation tool, called the LineFly, employs autonomous robotic technology to precisely install bird markers at any desired spacing. 

Working with Fulcrum Air, AltaLink helped develop a prototype for a robot that could mark an entire span of power line with bird diverters as efficiently as possible, saving time and reducing the cost normally associated with traditional installation techniques.

AltaLink was the first Canadian utility to develop an Avian Protection Plan designed to reduce the impact transmission facilities can have on birds. The plan includes set standards and processes for preventing collisions by installing bird markers. Bird markers make power lines more visible to birds in flight and reduce bird collisions with our transmission facilities between 60 and 90 per cent.

“AltaLink is proud to be a leader in bird protection,” said Rod Kause, Vice President, Environment, Health, and Safety for AltaLink. “And now we are proud to be a leader in deploying robotic technology to install bird markers. It was our commitment to improving performance in bird protection, as well as safety that drove us to collaborate with FulcrumAir to develop this innovative robotic technology.”

Traditionally, bird markers are installed manually using a helicopter, bucket truck, or conductor cart.

Now, using FulcrumAir’s E7500 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), the LineFly is placed onto the power line wires. In areas where the UAV is unable to safely fly, a bucket truck will be used to place the LineFly onto the wires. Once placed, the LineFly travels down the line fast and efficiently, placing markers at predetermined intervals. The LineFly can install 300 to 600 markers a day.

Deploying this new robotic technology, means that bird diverters can be installed in almost any type of weather condition and work can be performed in areas that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as wetlands or environmentally sensitive rights-of-way.

“FulcrumAir is extremely proud of our relationship with AltaLink,” said Patrick Arnell, President & CEO, FulcrumAir. “AltaLink is a leader when it comes to bird protection and other methods of improving efficiency and safety, and together, we are proud to be pioneering this new robotic tool for reducing the impact transmission facilities can have on birds.

The LineFly has been installing bird markers all week along AltaLink’s 174L line, and by the end of the week will have installed approximately 800 bird diverters. During 2021, the LineFly will complete the installation of approximately 4,500 bird markers in the Brooks area.

About AltaLink
Headquartered in Calgary, with offices in Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge, AltaLink is Alberta's largest electricity transmission provider. AltaLink is partnering with its customers to provide innovative solutions to meet the province’s demand for reliable and affordable energy. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, AltaLink is part of a global group of companies delivering energy services to customers worldwide.

About FulcrumAir
Founded in 2016 and investing over 20,000 hours of design and engineering, FulcrumAir Inc. has developed two of the world’s leading industrial UAVs and an autonomous robot, the LineFly. FulcrumAir designs, manufactures, and operates aerial robotic solutions that address unique problems in the forestry, infrastructure, power transmission, and environmental sectors. Its head office is located in Calgary, AB and US office in Wellington, CO.

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For more information please contact:

Amanda Sadleir
Manager, Communications
AltaLink Management Ltd.
Phone: 403.585.7289
E-mail: amanda.sadleir@altalink.ca

Patrick Arnell
President & CEO
FulcrumAir
Phone: 403 617 0109
E-mail: parnell@fulcrumair.com

 

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