Before a new GE machine design gets cleared for production, it has to go through rigorous testing and endure conditions it will likely never see in service – from golf ball-size hail to exploding jet engine fan blades. In the U.S., the company’s testing facilities are sometimes located in remote corners of the country and even employees rarely see more than a couple.
But that’s about to change. Starting Monday, GE will use drones to beam footage from five testing sites and factories to everyone with the Periscope app on its channel @generalelectric.
The event, called #DRONEWEEK, will kick off on Monday, July 20, in Houston, when GE makes massive blowout preventers and other subsea equipment. GE Aviation’s jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio, will follow on Tuesday, and the drones will then move to the Mojave Desert, Calif., where GE is testing a futuristic wind turbine prototype called EcoROTR (see below). The team will travel to GE’s locomotive plant in Texas on Thursday and conclude the flyover week at a unique gas turbine testing facility in Greenville, S.C., on Friday.
“We’re always trying to tell the full picture of the GE story which is a complicated one, so any time we can talk about the various industries and variety of expertise and disciplines, we try to find unique and innovative way to do that,” Sam Olstein, GE’s director of innovation, told Fast Company about the project. “Drone Week allows us to showcase five different sites and five industries to give people a really cool perspective and peek at some of the stuff they don’t see often but does have an impact on their lives.”