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Robot Planes Being Tested to Assess Power Outages [AUDIO]

MORE: NJ Recovering From Sandy

Everyone involved in getting the lights back on after a storm such as Sandy will tell you a huge part of the work involves finding and assessing all of the downed power lines and damage to transformers. But we now have the technology to speed that process along.

Downed Power Lines
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

We have all heard a lot about, “drones” those unmanned military strike planes that have struck terror int the hearts of terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan with their “out of the blue” strikes on specific targets.

Matthew Olearczyk of the Electric Power Research Institute says assessing power distribution damage now involves so-called “boots on the ground” visits to each and every town, neighborhood and street, to find and map the outages.

Could Drones Help Speed Up the Process?

Olearczyk says they are now experimenting with drones, robot planes, to greatly speed that process. He says if you can imagine now using an unmanned vehicle to fly over immediately following the storm, you can imagine how much faster that whole process would be forwarded.

He says they have the technology,  it’s already in place, fighting the war on terror. But he says some coordination is necessary here. Olearczyk says he is talking about the rules that are in front of us with regard to the approval through the Federal Aviation Administration.

But this is not just some pie-in-the-sky idea utilities may deploy sometime down the road. In fact, a drone test flight’s taking place this week in New Mexico.

Other technology, such as tablets, could help linemen communicate with warehouses and dispatch to get supplies where they’re needed.

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GALLERIES: More Photos of Sandy's Destruction in NJ

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