Project Background

The Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) project builds upon the work of the Digital Innovation Network (DIN), an initiative led by PTAC with support of an EDTT grant in 2018-19. As stated in the DIN project proposal, the intent has always been commercial deployment of digital technologies. Appropriately, the first two “outputs” listed in the DIN proposal are:

  • Increased deployment and demand for existing digital technologies, products, and services from Alberta companies.
  • Development, demonstration, and commercialization of new Alberta digital products and services to address some of the more difficult industry challenges and increase market penetration.

The BVLOS project directly addresses these two outputs by executing a multi-month’s commercial trial of drone flights for the monitoring and inspection services of remote oil and gas installation sites in Central and or Northern Alberta. The Alberta oil and gas sector, alongside many other industries, is entering an era of considerable transformation triggered by the availability of new digital technologies. A sector once driven solely by resources is now driven predominantly by technology and innovation. Specifically, the digitization of the energy sector will have a profound effect on operational efficiency, capital, operating, and general and administrative (G&A) cost reduction, and environmental performance, and will inevitably alter the industrial landscape as it presently exits. For example, in February 2018, Calgary software company Guild One executed an oil royalty contract settlement and payment transaction using their Blockchain Royalty Ledger.

Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) has worked in the digital innovation realm for several years with Alberta SMEs and oil and gas companies, and has identified an opportunity to test, on a commercial scale, drone flights for the inspection and monitoring of remote oil and gas installation in central and or Northern Alberta. BVLOS will provide the following capabilities at a level and pace not presently available and will deliver outcomes that are currently out of reach for the existing digital innovation ecosystem:

  • Real world test of new and innovative air space management technology.
  • Use case trial and development for additional applications and deployment of unmanned autonomous vehicles in an industrial setting.
  • Develop and establish delivery costs and demand parameters for BVLOS drone flights.
  • Test and confirm technical and business viability of BVLOS drone flights and air space management.
  • Collect and analyze data related to air space management and drone flight feasibility.
  • Provide science and technical information to inform the regulatory development process at Transport Canada and NAV Canada.

BVLOS will leverage the innovative spirit of Alberta oil and gas companies, technology developers, academia, government organizations, regulatory bodies, and entrepreneurs, and will contribute to the direct creation of new jobs in Alberta. At the conclusion of the BVLOS project, we will have generated the information to support the confirmation of the technical and economic viability and the facilitation of the development of new businesses, jobs, and technical capabilities for Alberta.