Viasat Showcases UAV Connectivity for Remote Powerline Inspections

In a recent demonstration, Viasat, a satellite communications company, and Gotonomi, a UAV connectivity platform provider, exhibited the potential of their VelarisTM connectivity solution in enhancing powerline inspections. This demonstration was a collaborative effort involving the deployment of ARA Robotics’ ARA-405 UAVs equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and capable of beyond line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.


Powerline inspections, often hampered by the vast distances and heights of installations, can benefit significantly from UAV technology. UAVs enable quicker access and provide unique aerial perspectives, making inspections more efficient. Integrating satellite communication (satcom) technology further improves these operations by allowing remote control and real-time data streaming from afar.

The demonstration, conducted with two ARA-405 UAVs over an 11-kilometer distance, showcased the UAVs’ ability to operate beyond the line of sight, with one drone acting as a relay station and the other carrying out primary inspection tasks. The Gotonomi Velaris SATCOM module, a compact unit weighing just 300g, provided a crucial secondary command and control link, ensuring uninterrupted communication between the UAVs and the control station.

This project, supported by the National Research Council of Canada and funded by the Innovative Solutions Canada program, was hosted at the UAS Centre of Excellence in Alma, Quebec. The successful demonstration underscores the viability of satcom-enhanced UAVs in assessing remote infrastructure, offering insights into future applications in power utility inspections and beyond.

Guillaume Charland-Arcand, CTO and Co-founder of ARA Robotics, praised the Velaris satcom module for its integration ease and flight performance, noting its critical role in the demonstration’s success. Anthony Spouncer, Senior Director of Advanced Air Mobility at Viasat, and Roderick Van Den Bergh, Operations Manager at Gotonomi, both expressed enthusiasm for the potential of satcom technology to advance UAV capabilities in BVLOS operations, emphasizing its impact on safety, telemetry, and data services.