Drone innovators Blue Vigil introduce an airborne alternative to traditional light towers
Blue Vigil has reimagined the traditional towable light tower.
Rather than using a mast to support the light source, Blue Vigil has created the Aerial LED (ALED), which uses a tethered drone to illuminate jobsites.
“Currently, towed light towers are the de-facto standard for a majority of nighttime roadside, bridge, overpass and other horizontal construction sites,” said Blue Vigil CEO Robert Schumann. “We have a better, and safer, solution to answer what will soon become known as yesterday’s problems.”
The tethered drone is equipped with high-intensity LEDs and can position lights from 12 metres to 30.5 metres above a jobsite.
The ALED delivers more than 743 square metres of light on the ground providing nearly twice as much coverage as traditional towed light towers.
The drone’s ability to fly as high as 30.5 metres means light is projected directly down onto the area of operation, without creating glare and shadows that negatively affect workers, nearby residents and motorists.
“You want the light to come from above. The shadows just disappear when you do that. You’re no longer at a weird angle,” Schumann said.
The ALED’s tether provides electricity to the drone delivering a constant power source. It can be powered by wall/shore power, a portable 3,000-watt generator, or a common vehicle inverter.
“The drone always stays directly above the base, so the cable doesn’t interfere with a work area,” Schumann said.
The drone is also equipped with a small backup battery in case the power source is interrupted.
“It has three minutes of flight time to come back down and land,” Schumann explained.
Blue Vigil was founded about seven years ago as a developer of tethers for commercial drones.
“We were thinking, ‘we have all this power up in the air, what can we do with it’,” Schumann said. “Then I drove by a construction site in Washington D.C. that was terribly lit.”
The ALED is purpose-built and uniquely designed to withstand construction site environments. The all-weather light is enclosed in a portable wheeled case that can easily be positioned wherever illumination is needed.
“The whole thing weighs 70 pounds and becomes a rolling suitcase,” Schumann said.
The base is 76 cm wide, 1 metre long, and 61 cm in depth.
As the Blue Vigil ALED is easy to move and position, it reduces the need to have heavy light towers stationed in areas where they aren’t always needed. The ALED fits into a pickup or SUV and does not require a trailer or towing, making it easy to transport, easy to position and easy to store. Set-up is as simple as positioning the unit, opening the case and pushing one-button to raise the light into position.
The drone’s housing is built using foam, which absorbs sound and increases durability.
“It’s structurally a great material,” Schumann said. “Normal drones are driven by battery life, which is driven by weight more or less, which makes them pretty fragile. That’s not appropriate for a construction site.”
Blue Vigil’s Innovation Award
The ALED has already garnered industry recognition. At the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) 53rd Annual Convention & Traffic Expo, the ALED was selected for an Innovation Award, one of 18 products in this year’s New Products Rollout. According to the ATSSA, “it wowed the department of transportation officials who served as judges.”
This summer, Blue Vigil plans to run several pilot programs with public safety groups, contractors and the military to test the ALED on various jobsites.
Production of the lighting system is expected to begin as early as December 2024.