ComEd Utilizes Drones for Damage Assessment and Situational Awareness

ComEd’s Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) program is at the forefront of autonomy, technology, and innovation in the utility sector. The UAS program boasts a drone fleet exceeding 75 aircraft and 51 pilots, utilizing cutting-edge processes for damage assessment and enhanced situational awareness. Proactive strategies, like pre-emptive substation snow clearing, are also employed. Beyond operational benefits, the UAS initiative promotes community engagement through educational outreach, offering students interactive drone experiences to inspire interest in STEM fields. This pioneering program, which won Chartwell’s Gold Best Practices Award in Outage Operations this year, showcases the potential of utility drone operations today.

Speaker: Valerie Dammann, Manager Project Execution/UAS Manager, ComEd
Valerie joined ComEd/Exelon in 1989.  Before joining the Emergency Preparedness Department, Valerie has held various management positions and has led several technical projects, storm improvement teams and oversight of technology, mobile command vehicles and storm room support.
As Manager of Project Execution/UAS Manager, Valerie is responsible for governance and oversight for ComEd’s UAS Department ensuring safe and effective operations for the drone team.  Valerie leads a team of Distribution, Transmission and Substation engineers, maintenance inspectors, first line supervisors, first line responders, technicians and UAS operators supporting training, flight missions and implementation of new use case development. 
Her Team has developed job aids, processes and procedures, including operating procedures, safety standards, training manuals, maintenance standards, inspections, incident reporting and checklists to operate the UAS safely.
Valerie led the first use case development and implementation for ComEd working with the Environmental Team in using drones to install bird diverters on distribution lines in preventing avian deaths.  Her Team is currently working on beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for several use cases, which will allow for more efficient and effective inspections in hard to reach areas and infrastructures.
Valerie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northwestern University and has a Masters in Management and an MBA from North Park University.


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