We’ve previously discussed the plans to modify technology from NASA’s Mars Rover here on Earth to make detecting natural gas leaks easier. Development on this method for discovering natural gas leaks before they can degenerate into deadly explosions and fires is picking up speed. NASA has been working with a utility company in another state to make this plan a reality. Not only will this leak-detection method be easier, it will also be cheaper and quicker. This could translate to saved lives and prevent many innocent Illinois and Missouri residents from being seriously injured.
The technology uses sensors that are comprised of laser spectrometers, which can be tuned and placed on various types of aircraft. Earlier versions of these products were used to sense methane spikes on Mars. More recent versions of these sensors are being used in conjunction with a different type of computer software to detect gas leaks on Earth. Researchers are currently planning to use the sensors either with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, or in handheld detectors that inspectors can use.
Data from the drones would likely be sent to laptops, while results from the handheld detectors would be sent to small tablets, presumably used by the inspectors in the field. These new sensors are apparently up to 1,000 times more sensitive than the methods that utility companies currently employ to find leaks. One Research and Development manager for a utility company points out that this method is also faster, because it means that workers will not be required to walk every square inch of their pipelines and other assets. That increased speed in detecting leaks could be crucial for saving lives.
Reports indicate that more utility companies are taking steps to utilize UAVs in leak-detection efforts. Not only are these methods cheaper and faster, they also mean that fewer ground crews will be needed and detecting leaks in mountainous or otherwise remote terrain will become much more practical. Of course, the kinks still need to be worked out for these methods to become more widespread. Additionally, there are the logistical considerations of having these methods approved by the FAA to overcome. The FAA has been cautious in approving the use of drones in civilian airspace because of the controversy that surrounds this prospect.
Even with these intriguing efforts to make detecting natural gas leaks easier, deadly explosions and fires continue to occur. Please contact our St. Louis burn injury law firm at 1-888-586-7041 to discuss the steps you may be able to take to obtain financial restitution for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence. Personal injury and wrongful death laws exist to protect people just like you, and we stand ready to help you enforce your legal rights.
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