American Water’s drone program enters into partnership with New Jersey Innovation Institute

Camden-based American Water on Monday said that, after its Unmanned Aerial System Program recently earned a Federal Aviation Administration Certificate of Authorization to fly both beyond visual line of sight and up to an altitude of 1,500 feet above ground level, it entered into an agreement with the New Jersey Innovation Institute to perform research.

This significant research will enhance monitoring of source water and potential environmental threats that are critical to the infrastructure water supply.

“American Water is proud to partner with NJII (and New Jersey Institute of Technology), enabling us to jointly perform unmanned aerial systems and payload research flying up to three miles from a UAS pilot at an altitude of 1,500 feet to capture wide area mapping at high resolutions,” Christopher Kahn, director of UAS, American Water, said.

Additionally, American Water’s long-range mapping and inspection airframe, the Censys Technologies Sentaero, provides the ability to safely inspect facilities from miles away through high-resolution cameras, while staying in the air for over an hour.

“American Water’s partnerships with NJII/NJIT and Censys Technologies is important for advancing the integration of UAS into the national airspace, because it is an example of enterprise operation standardization across multiple applications,” Trevor Perrott, co-founder and CEO, Censys Technologies, said. “Through American Water’s leadership, our country is another step closer to making safe BVLOS drone missions commonplace. The exciting part is the story doesn’t end here.”

American Water is also working closely with several government agencies and partner organizations to enable BVLOS UAS missions during temporary flight restrictions, which are commonly in place after natural disasters.