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December 20th, 2012
Adequately inspecting the 167,000-miles of pipelines that crisscross the nation carrying oil and refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel is difficult, maybe impossible. Although there are more than 100 significant spills a year, a federal agency requires companies to focus their inspections on only 44 percent of the land-based pipelines near towns, cities and environmentally sensitive areas, leaving thousands of miles rarely seen. But technology may provide a way to overcome this daunting problem. Watch a demonstration of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) conducted by BP to improve pipeline inspections in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Equipped with high-resolution cameras, the Aeryon Scout drone can easily inspect miles of pipelines, helping crews watch for problems. The labor-saving, small rotor-wing aircraft is flown from a handheld tablet computer.