Southern Company System Granted FAA Waiver for Autonomous BVLOS Operations

Southern Company's aerial services department can begin conducting dock-based, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, enabling remote monitoring and asset inspections systemwide.    

ATLANTA, June 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company, in partnership with Skydio, announced today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a conditions-based waiver enabling remote-based, autonomous beyond line of sight (BVLOS) dock operations across its system.

The waiver is one of the first of its kind and will integrate autonomous drone systems in support of remote-based monitoring and inspection. This BVLOS waiver will assist the Southern Company system with remote-based infrastructure monitoring and inspection at plant sites, substations and other fixed site locations allowing more efficient inspections, mapping and monitoring aimed at making the energy infrastructure more resilient and reliable for customers.

"This is a huge step in advancing autonomous and remote operations at scale," said Dean Barefield, Southern Company's UAS program manager. "The waiver will help to unlock the true potential of autonomous and remote-based operations while increasing efficiency and reliability."

The Southern Company system will conduct these operations using Skydio X2 and Skydio Dock. Skydio's AI technology will allow operators to safely inspect infrastructure in close proximity to structures, even in complex environments that would be challenging or impractical with less sophisticated drone technology.

"This national-scale approval enables the Southern Company system to conduct remote operations at critical infrastructure sites from Georgia to California," said Jenn Player, Skydio's senior director of aviation regulatory affairs. "When it comes to scaling beyond visual line of sight operations, having an intelligent drone makes all the difference. Skydio was proud to support Southern Company in obtaining this approval that enables inspection and monitoring of critically important facilities."

The Southern Company system was previously granted a waiver in November 2022 that allowed for advanced BVLOS operations using drones to map and inspect stacks, transmission lines and basins at Plant Barry in Bucks, Ala. This waiver granted the company the ability to perform safer, more efficient recurring inspections of its system's critical infrastructure.


About Southern Company
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a leading energy provider serving 9 million customers across the Southeast and beyond through its family of companies. Providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy with excellent service is our mission. The company has electric operating companies in three states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company, a leading distributed energy distribution company with national capabilities, a fiber optics network and telecommunications services. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, resilience and sustainability, we are taking action to meet customers' and communities' needs while advancing our goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Our uncompromising values ensure we put the needs of those we serve at the center of everything we do and are the key to our sustained success. We are transforming energy into economic, environmental and social progress for tomorrow. Our corporate culture and hiring practices have earned the company national awards and recognition from numerous organizations, including Forbes, The Military Times, DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, J.D. Power, Fortune, Human Rights Campaign and more. To learn more, visit

About Skydio
Skydio is the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight. Skydio leverages breakthrough AI to create the world's most intelligent flying machines for use by consumer, enterprise, and government customers. Founded in 2014, Skydio is made up of leading experts in AI, robotics, cameras, and electric vehicles from top companies, research labs, and universities from around the world. Skydio designs, assembles, and supports its products in the U.S. from its headquarters in San Mateo, CA, to offer the highest standards of supply chain and manufacturing security. Skydio is trusted by leading enterprises across a wide range of industry sectors and is backed by top investors and strategic partners including Andreessen Horowitz, Levitate Capital, Next47, IVP, Playground, and NVIDIA.



SOURCE Southern Company

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