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Automated Drone Inspections Offered for Electric Utilities

August 25, 2017

Photo courtesy of Sharper Shape
Photo courtesy of Sharper Shape

Sharper Shape announced it has successfully completed field trials for its commercial drone-based Automatic Detailed Inspection (ADI) service and will begin offering the service for electric utilities, available as a complete end-to-end service, or with the software alone. Drone-based utility inspections can offer more safety and higher quality results than traditional inspections conducted by helicopter or on foot. 

The company’s ADI Flight Planner software automatically creates accurate 3D models of powerlines using LiDAR data and creates optimized routes for automatically inspecting utility assets. High-performance DJI commercial drones autonomously follow the generated flight path to capture images of insulators, wire connections, and other critical components at short range and from multiple angles.

Images are automatically uploaded to Sharper Shape’s cloud-based Inspector application, which allows utility personnel to review field data and post-flight analysis using several artificial intelligence tools, according to the company.

Compared to manually flown drone utility inspections, Sharper Shape’s service reduces inspection time from 10-20 minutes per structure to 1-2 minutes, according to the company. The automated processes mean less skilled pilots can safely produce high-quality inspection work that is more repeatable than a manual inspection. In addition, data is automatically uploaded to the Sharper Inspection software platform.

In addition, companies that already own drones can use Sharper Shape’s ADI software-as-a-service technologies maximize the efficiency of their own aircraft and personnel.

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Remaining active in the fleet industry for more than 50 years, Ed Bobit is chairman and founder of Bobit Business Media (BBM), Automotive Fleet editor, and a founding AFLA member.

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