BP Launches First-Ever Commercial Drone

BP has deployed a drone to scour its oil field in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay.

According to the LATimes, it’s the first time a commercial drone has been launched in compliance with FAA regulations.

The Puma, manufactured by Monrovia, California-based AeroVironment, has been running sorties since Sunday, creating 3-D maps of the infrastructure that dots BP’s holdings on Alaska’s North Slope. It takes off after being thrown into the air, and was originally designed for military purposes. Here’s a Puma launch in GIF form:

AeroVironment comments reported by the Wall Street Journal indicate it may still take a while for large-scale commercial fleets to come online.

AeroVironment spokesman Steve Gitlin said it took about a year and considerable monetary investment to get FAA approval. “If that’s what it takes to prove the commercial viability, then it’s something we’re committed to doing,” he said.

Congress has mandated the FAA come up with revised drone regulations by September 2015. The agency said in a release that BP’s use of drones is “another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft.”

AeroVironment shares are up 20% YTD.

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