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June 8 2013

In Alaska's oilfields, drones countdown to takeoff


No pilot was required when the Aeryon Scout took off into the leaden skies of Alaska to inspect a stretch of oil pipeline. The miniature aircraft was guided by an engineer on the ground, armed only with a tablet computer.

The 20-minute test flight, conducted by BP Plc last fall, was a glimpse of a future where oil and gas companies in the Arctic can rely on unmanned aircraft to detect pipeline faults, at a fraction of the cost of piloted helicopter flights.

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