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  • Charl Jooste

Delek US Refineries Receives Ground-breaking BVLOS Approval from the FAA

Image: Percepto

Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), drone operations have long been a goal of the commercial drone industry. While the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has been proactive and efficient in helping the industry develop, there have been many hurdles and delays. Percepto has proudly achieved BVLOS approval for drone operations at Delek US refineries.

Percepto is an Israel-based company with operations throughout the world. They have already made a few ground-breaking developments in the commercial and industrial drone industry. Their “autonomous inspection platform” AIM was awarded a place in the 2021 Time magazine top 100 Best Inventions. That is certainly a great achievement.

The company specializes in autonomous inspections using drones and industrial robotics. AIM is one of their leading accomplishments, as is their Air Mobile drone and their drone-in-a-box solution.

The FAA approval for BVOLS operations for Delek US Holdings is another major achievement. This is the first US refinery to achieve this approval, thanks to the team efforts and Percepto technology.

The approval will see operations that are remotely controlled for use in Texas and Arkansas Delek refineries. Percepto has already secured approval for other industrial sites in Israel, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Austria. These include clients such as Verizon Skyward, Florida Power & Light, and others.

BVLOS allows operators to work autonomously from remote locations. They can control all aspects of the drone operation with precision and control, with real-time feedback. This means that the system can work BVLOS and with full automation.

There are multiple opportunities for maintenance inspections with full remote control. The operators can monitor security, maintenance, and everyday operations in real time. The system can also be set up to track special projects. The benefits are that it is faster than normal processes, less expensive, and safer.

The monitoring will also help to reduce risk and costs by aerial monitoring of supplies, materials, equipment, and other assets. This will improve environmental and safety compliance.

CEO of Percepto, CEO Dor Abuhasira, praised Delek US for the success of the project, saying that the industry “has been seeking new solutions to old problems.” He added, “This approval to use autonomous drone technology is a huge step forward toward cleaner and safer refineries within the oil and gas industry.”

Grigor Bambekov, Delek SVP of business transformation, went on, “Percepto’s end-to-end system supports our environmental, social, and governance goals to deliver safe and reliable autonomous drones that can be operated remotely while in compliance with US FAA regulations. By working in partnership with Percepto, Delek US is gaining more effective.”

The AIM system allows for instant and accurate visual data management and analysis. This leads to improved safety, greater efficiencies, and cost savings. The platform has recently been upgraded and includes Air Max as well as the Sparrow. An added feature of particular benefit is an OGI camera that is able to pick up gas emissions, further enhancing the safety the system offers.

No doubt other industries will embrace this technology, and this will drive innovation and development from Percepto and other companies working in this space.


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