Posts tagged "Drone Inspections"

We’ve just announced the release of our Quick Start Guide to Drones in Public Infrastructure. This new report is the third and final series of white papers we’ve done to provide a complete primer to drone use in specific industries.

The report consolidates our best insights into the challenges and solutions drones add to inspecting assets like bridges, dams, highways, towers, and railways. It shows how drones add value to digital representation of physical assets and what information companies and public agencies are gleaning from the data their drones collect.

The paper answers questions like:

  • How big is the public infrastructure inspection drone market, and who are the major solution providers?
  • How do state DOTs, civil engineers, railroads, and telecommunications firms use drones and what challenges must be addressed?
  • What do you need to know about regulations, pilot certification, insurance, and training?
  • What are the best practices for adopting drones into existing workflows?

Here is an excerpt from the Drone Use in Public Infrastructure section:

“MDOT estimates that a standard bridge deck inspection takes eight hours, a crew of four people, and heavy equipment – costing at an estimated $4,600. The same inspection with a drone, however, requires just two people and two hours to complete at an estimated cost of $250.

A March 2018 survey, by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, found that 35 of 44 responding state departments of transportation (80%) are using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for a wide range of purposes. The survey also finds that 20 state DOTs have incorporated drones into their daily operations. All 20 are deploying the technology to gather photos and video of highway construction projects. In addition to photography, 14 states also reported using them for surveying, 12 for public education and outreach, 10 for bridge inspections, eight for emergency response, six for pavement inspections, five for scientific research, two for daily traffic control and monitoring, and one for conducting high-mast light pole inspections.

Of the 35 states deploying drones, 23 have established comprehensive policies that cover the acquisition, operation, airspace restrictions, and training and permitting of drones and pilots. Twenty-seven of the state DOTs said they were adding full-time staff to operate and maintain their drone fleets.”

The 10-page report also provides a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for evaluating and designing your drone program and comes with an appendix that includes links to valuable online resources such as attorneys, advocacy groups, training & certification, and waivers & authorizations.

You can get the free report here.

Image credit: Emerald Expositions

Team UAV, a leading drone inspection and survey company based in the United Kingdom have today launched a confined space drone cage solution specific for the DJI Phantom 4 drone – the most widely used drone in the industry.

Lewis Pritchard CEO of Team UAV said; “We’ve been developing dronecage in response to the growing confined space and indoor drone inspection industry. Before Dronecage, the cost of carrying out these inspections and surveys were restrictive due to the high cost of associated drone equipment. Dronecage has completely changed the way confined space inspections are carried out by dramatically lowering the cost of the drone equipment associated with them, giving the user ultra high quality data and making these types of tasks even safer by using familiar, user friendly equipment that requires no extra training to use.

Already, Team UAV have seen a significant increase in the amount of indoor and confined space inspections as a proportion of our business, so we can only say that having this product as part of our capability portfolio has increased the areas in which we can operate. It is sufficient to say, users of Dronecage can now provide higher quality datasets to their Clients, safer and at a more competitive rate. This should really help drones come to the forefront of the confined space inspection & survey industry.”

Dronecage is made from ultra-lightweight, advanced aerospace grade carbon fibre memory materials. It is ergonomically designed to be robust, take hits, knocks and bumps and carry on flying. Dronecage is lightweight too, meaning it has long flight times, has ultra bright LED lights available and requires no extra training to be used.

I’m happy to announce the release of our Quick Start Guide to Drones in Energy. This report is the second in a new series of Skylogic Research white papers, intended to provide a complete primer to drone use in specific industries. This year, we are building on the analysis we did for the 2017 Five Valuable Business Lessons Learned papers by providing guidance and industry-specific resources that will help you kick-start your practice. Our goal is to help drone-based service providers and business users maximize the value that drones can bring to operational groups.

This report consolidates our best insights into the challenges and solutions drones add to inspecting assets that produce and supply energy. We show how drones add value to digital 3-D representation of physical assets and what information companies are gleaning from the data their drones collect.

The paper answers questions like:

  • How big is the energy inspection drone market, and who are the major solution providers?
  • How are drones used by oil and gas companies, wind and solar farms, and utilities and what challenges must be addressed?
  • What do you need to know about regulations, pilot certification, insurance, and training?
  • What are the best practices for adopting drones into existing workflows?

Here is an excerpt from the drone use in energy asset inspections section:

“The number keeps growing, but GWEC estimates that there were over 341,000 wind turbines spinning around the world at the end of 2016. Unidentified defects can result in an unexpected catastrophic failure, causing expensive repairs, extended downtime, and associated revenue loss. Revenue losses alone from unexpected catastrophic failures can be as high as $50,000 per turbine.

Companies like AES Corporation and Duke Energy have realized tremendous cost savings using drone inspections. For example, drone-based service provider Measure can automate wind turbine data collection and inspection, making the process cost-effective and reliable. With traditional ground inspection methods, a two-person crew is able to inspect 3–4 turbines in a single day. A drone pilot can inspect 12–15 turbines in the same period. Plus, it’s a lot safer than sending inspectors out on rope harnesses high above the ground.

According to Solarplaza, drones can cut the cost of solar-farm panel inspections to between USD $2,100 and $3,200 a day, covering five acres an hour. According to one published report, a drone can survey 4,000 panels in about five minutes, while a human inspection would take more than eight days at a rate of one panel inspection per minute. The technique involves mounting a high-definition infrared camera on a drone and running the images through an analysis program to detect hotspots that might reveal the presence of faults. Maintenance teams can then visit these hotspot locations directly, without having to survey the entire solar field, which saves on operational costs.”

The 10-page report also provides a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for evaluating and designing your drone program and comes with an appendix that includes links to valuable online resources such as attorneys, advocacy groups, training & certification, and waivers & authorizations.

I believe this is the perfect time to get your start using drones in the energy industry like scores of firms worldwide have done. You can get the free report here.

If you have questions about what’s in the report or would like to comment on it after reading it, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Emerald Expositions

THE FUTURE OF INSPECTIONS: A QUICKER PACE EQUALS MORE DATA SECURITY?

When asking Danijel from ALL NRG in what way he sees himself doing inspections going forward, he’s hoping that the software will be able to save him even more time – but maybe more importantly; decrease the risk of data loss before getting home from an inspection:

“My dream for the future of inspections looks like this: I just finished inspecting a wind turbine. I pull my tablet out of my bag, I press send. And it’s already uploaded in Scopito, and the customer have the report from day 1. Then I’ll carry on to the next turbine on my schedule.

And that dream is one of the things that Danijel collaborates on together with Scopito CEO, Ken Falk, and his associated developers.

Danijel continues:

“The more we collaborate, the more quickly we will have a system that fits our needs. And a lot has happened already. When we started using Scopito, it was somewhat perfect for turbine blades, but not so much for the more technical parts of the turbine, like the gear boxes, where we needed more fields for description texts.”

A lot of the things that has since then been optimized in Scopito were apparently minor features, which matters a lot in ALL NRGs work processes.

“We e.g. needed more text boxes. Obviously, a report is more than just some images with comments on. We also want to note down e.g. what equipment we’ve used. We measure a lot of things, so it’s not just about images. We also need the option to attach a PDF file containing our conclusions. Scopito didn’t use to have this, but it does now.”

There’s still some development to be done before Scopito is running perfectly smooth for ALL NRG, and when that has happened, the great vision is that the two companies will work together on developing an app connected to Scopito, so that ALL NRG won’t have to do anything to move and store the data.

“Let’s imagine we’ve been to Mexico for one month, doing inspections on 50 wind turbines. And we get home – and the computer breaks down. Data is our foundation for everything we do, so that is a lot of money to lose. Because of this, we look forward to the day where we can just press “send” while on site and be certain that the data is uploaded and safely stored already.”

One reason why this vision is not possible yet, it that Scopito is a cloud platform, not an app. That means that internet access is needed to upload the data. And, unfortunately, internet is not abundant where wind turbines are placed.

Danijel also mentions automatic filled out text boxes as an example of a feature that will make creating reports easier in the future – but he considers the app that could give him the possibility to quickly and safely upload the data, already while in field, to be the most crucial.

“That is my vision, and time will tell if it will be possible, both technically and economically.”

Sharper Shape Inc. has announced this week that their new Automatic Detail Inspection (ADI) service has successfully completed field trials and is now available for immediate commercial use by electric utilities.  The ADI service is available as a complete end-to-end inspection package, or companies can use their own aircraft and personnel, utilizing Sharper Shape’s ADI “Drone Software as A Service™” technologies to maximize the efficiency of in-house unmanned aerial operations. The company expects their Automatic Detailed Inspection service to be rapidly adopted by major US as well as international utilities due to system’s ability to largely automate the entire process ranging from using drones for close inspection of critical infrastructure components up to defect recognition.

Sharper Shape’s Automatic Detailed Inspection service takes full advantage of the outstanding capabilities of the current generation of small commercial unmanned aircraft. To begin the process, Sharper Shape’s ADI Flight Planner software automatically creates accurate 3D models of powerlines using LiDAR data of the system. The ADI Flight Planner software uses this geospatial data to create optimized routes for automatically inspecting utility assets. High performance DJI commercial drones autonomously follow these automatically created flight paths to capture images of insulators, wire connections and other critical components at close range and from multiple angles. Finally, these images are uploaded under software control to the Sharper Shape cloud-based Inspector application. This purpose-built application provides an ideal platform for utility personnel to review field data, and post-flight analysis is further accelerated with several artificial intelligence tools.

“Our new ADI service really minimizes the effort required to capture all the data needed to completely analyze the health of a utility system and to target the problem areas,” says Paul Frey, Sharper Shape’s VP of sales. “UAS field crews can get a lot more done each day, with much more predictable and repeatable results.”

According to Ilkka Hiidenheimo, Sharper Shape’s CEO: “With our new ADI service, not only are we automating the drone field operations, but we are also providing a complete post-flight software environment for performing intelligent computer-assisted analysis of the massive amount of data captured during each flight.”

Hiidenheimo provided insight into the future: “After the uplift of the beyond visual line of sight drone based flying regulation in the US we will be able to maximize the potential of the service, the same way we already do in Finland.”

Advantages of ADI vs. traditional inspections done by helicopters or by foot patrol

  • Increased safety by keeping the pilots and crew on the ground
  • In comparison to helicopter data acquisition, higher quality data and data from below the assets
  • A much lower price point
  • More environmentally friendly

Advantages of ADI vs. traditional manually flown drone utility inspections include:

  • Inspection time is reduced from 10-20 minutes per structure for manual flight control to 1-2 minutes using ADI.
  • ADI delivers more repeatable and higher quality inspection results
  • Far less stress is put on ADI field crews, resulting in reduced mental & physical fatigue
  • ADI minimizes risk – even less skilled pilots can safely produce top quality inspection work
  • All ADI data is automatically uploaded to the Sharper Inspector software platform, which provides an optimized environment for manual examination of inspection data, as well as providing an environment for automating certain inspection tasks through intelligent software plug-ins

Even though Sharper Shape’s ADI service is initially being targeted for use in the electric transmission and distribution markets, the company is working on introducing the applications into a much wider range of industrial inspection applications. Says Sharper Shape’s Hiidenheimo: “There really is no reason our automatic flight operations and inspection software can’t be equally effective when working on cell phone towers, wind turbines, or many other critical industrial assets.”

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About Sharper Shape
Sharper Shape is the global leader in drone-based automated inspection services.  The company has US offices in North Dakota and Maryland, as well as an international research and development facility near Helsinki Finland. The company’s full stack of unmanned aircraft, sensor systems, and software services have been developed specifically to meet the needs of the electric transmission and distribution industry. Sharper Shape’s Consolidated Linear Inspection service and newly introduced Automatic Detailed Inspection service deliver unrivaled inspection speed and cost effectiveness for electric utility customers.

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In many regions of Norway, access to powerlines is difficult, so helicopters are often deployed to inspect the grid. But power utilities are increasingly becoming aware of the potential of drone-based inspections as a cost-effective and powerful method of obtaining data about the condition of the grid – especially when the software to store, share and analyse the images already exists. Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag is one of the first power suppliers to test the concept in Norway along with drone operators Funtek – and the results are looking good!

Funtek is a Norwegian drone operating company, offering drone-based inspections of powerlines, wind turbines and other critical infrastructure. To store and analyse the vast amounts of data generated by drone inspections, Funtek are using software developed by Scopito, a Danish specialist IT developer focusing on making infrastructure inspections much more effective in terms of time and cost.

Torstein Funderud, co-owner and founder of Funtek, explains: “We have been building and flying drones for nearly a decade, and with the fast-evolving technology development in this segment it became clear for us that this equipment can be applied to industrial inspections. We started out doing small test inspections and developing procedures and equipment specifically for this, and after some time we needed more specific input from the potential client base to further develop the concept. So I contacted our local power utility Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag and proposed the idea of doing test runs on their power lines, and they accepted.

We chose two lines with varied topography, to test the limitations of both the inspection procedures and the actual limitations of the equipment. And we decided to use Scopito’s software to store and tag all the many images that come from a single inspection run.”

Results indicate cheaper, more efficient power line inspections

Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag’s grid manager Jan Erik Fedje is happy with the results from the test runs:

“We have carried out two test runs using drones to inspect power lines running along the fjords and in the mountains; so, in challenging topographies. Although we have not yet analysed the data in great detail, we think that drone inspections and the software solution connected to them are really promising as an alternative to helicopter inspections – we also expect to find that using drones is much cheaper and more flexible than conventional inspection runs.”

Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag has also called upon Funtek to carry out inspections to detect and identify specific faults on the grid, when helicopters could not take off due to high winds. “Funtek responded and found the fault very quickly with their drone services, so we will definitely turn to this solution again in the future,” says Jan Erik Fedje.

Full software integration with Powel

Funtek is working closely with their own software developers and suppliers Powel and Scopito to make sure inspection data in Scopito integrates well with the customers’ existing Powel platform. Powel’s solutions are currently being used by both Danish and Norwegian utility companies to manage powerlines and powerline infrastructure.

“Scopito’s software is just perfect for this type for work,” Torstein Funderud says. “Before I found it, I had ideas of developing a system like it for our own use – but Scopito just does the job brilliantly. What’s more, when we can cross-reference our data with the information in Powel’s power grid management system and present and analyse it in Scopito, you have a complete solution.”

“In Powel’s power grid management system the clients can easily export GPS and name information for the lines they want to do inspection on. We merge this information with the captured inspection data so that when the customer gets the result of the inspection there is a direct correlation to their own maintenance system. This means that if the customers want inspection data for a mast in their system, they can simply type in their own mast “name” or identifier in Scopito and the images for that specific mast will appear.

We also use the data from Powel’s power grid management system to plan our drone inspections, and ensure that when an inspection job is done we do actually have data from all of the masts on that line – and no data is missing. This adds confidence since we can actually verify that the inspection that is carried out is complete.

In practical terms, this means that the utility company can save enormous amounts of money normally spent on helicopter-based inspections, and downtime and costly repairs can be foreseen – or entirely avoided – with extreme precision.

Exciting possibilities when integrating Scopito with Powel software

For utility companies already using the many different software solutions developed by Powel, the possibility of integrating Scopito imaging with Powel opens up a range of new possibilities.

Kjetil Storset is Executive Vice President at Powel AS and is in charge of Powel’s development of smart infrastructure solutions. He sees great potential for power companies and infrastructure owners in combining Scopito’s imaging software with Powel’s management solutions:

“When operators can integrate the data in Powel’s software with the image management in Scopito, the possibilities really open up. In our software, utility companies can have specific data on every single mast in the power grid, every single insulator and every other piece of equipment in the critical infrastructure. The Scopito software can share and visualize every single image taken, so that we have full knowledge of the exact position, altitude, time etc. of each image. Pair this with the data stored in our systems, and the utility company can now pinpoint the condition of every single mast and find the information in a matter of minutes.”

For further information, please contact:

Torstein Funderud, Funtek AS
Telephone: +47 95 05 86 92
Email: torstein@funtek.no
www: funtek.no
Ken Falk, CEO

Scopito ApS
Agro Food Park 13, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark
Telephone: +45 71 99 29 03
Email: kif@scopito.com
www: scopito.com

We just released a new research report titled “Five Valuable Business Lessons About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection” This is the fourth in a series of white papers intended to share lessons learned in specific industries and how to maximize the value drones can deliver in those industries. This year, we are building on the analysis we did for the 2016 “Truth About” papers by incorporating real-world experience gained from businesses and drone pilots operating under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (aka FAA Part 107).

In the report, which co-authored by Chris Korody, we demonstrate what drone operators servicing a wide variety of industries have learned about what works and what doesn’t. We explore both the benefits and limitations of drone inspection projects and offer practical advice to would-be adopters. We answer questions like: What have companies learned about creating their own internal drone operation groups? And where do we go or what can we expect from here?

Here is an excerpt:

“While both media and investors have primarily focused on opportunities for using drones in the construction and agriculture industries, inspection applications have fostered innovation together with significant returns on investment. The reasons begin with the “four Ds”—a term coined by GE Ventures to describe the unique ability of drones to meet the needs of their field services customers. The four D’s describe any activity that’s tailor-made to be performed by a drone, and are:

  • Dull
  • Dirty
  • Dangerous
  • Distant

In a 2014 interview, Sue Siegel, the CEO of GE Ventures, added a fifth “D”—for data—saying simply, “Imagine that if you’re doing it faster, you might be able to do it more often. And more data typically will give you better data.”

The four Ds+1 combination is one of the most compelling arguments for drone adoption in companies where uptime is money, crews are expensive, and structures and facilities are often expected to last 50 to 100 years.

The other compelling argument is cost reduction. McKinsey Consulting’s recent white paper “Preserving the downturn’s upside highlights how the oil and gas industry reduced costs by 29% in response to falling oil prices. They show that 40% to 50% of the savings came from eliminating the demand for a variety of services, including manned aviation support. The innovators figured out how to put drones to work.”

The report goes on to discuss how drones and the data from drones offer huge advantages in the oil & gas, telecommunications, and utility industries. It also provides insights from Dexter Lewis, PE, senior engineer in the research and development group at Southern Company (NYSE: SO) which brings electricity and gas to 9 million customers.

You can get the free report here.

If you have questions about what’s in the report or would like to comment on it after reading it, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

A manufacturer of refinery infrastructure was about to finish the assembly of a radiant box when a quality control concern arose around some components in the project. The need for visual inspection at height in a complex environment, where scaffolding would only make the situation worse, led the customer to entertain the value and benefits of the indoor inspection drone Elios through the services offered by Industrial SkyWorks.

A large manufacturer of refineries, processing equipment and technologies active in the oil and gas industry was about to finish a major phase of the construction of a new radiant box facility used in the process of refining hydrogen under very high temperature (1300 to 2000°F) and pressure (45 to 360 psi).

Near the end of the assembly process of the 144 40’ high vertical pipes composing the radiant box, a thumbnail size notch was noticed in one of the pipes just before it was installed. This caused the owner of the refinery some concern as to the condition of the other pipes that were already assembled in the unit. The refinery customer insisted that each of the pipes be inspected thoroughly before they would sign off on the delivery of this stage of the construction and move into the final stages of testing and firing up the radiant box.

The refinery manufacturer was left with some difficult choices. He would have to erect scaffoldings inside the radiant box in the small walkways in between the 3 rows of pipes with only a manhole to bring in all the material. But, the major concern had to do with the risk inherent to the scaffolding operation. Made up of a very particular heat-resistant alloy containing 30% of chrome, the pipes of the radiant box have the downside of needing a very careful treatment. A simple contact with another alloy would risk damaging the pipes. Therefore, all the scaffolding would need to be powder-coated before being used. The cost of the operation, safety risk, time delay and potential risk of further damaging the pipes with the scaffolding was definitely a huge concern.

That’s when the refinery manufacturer called on Industrial SkyWorks to proceed with the inspection of the pipes. Their training and certification to work in refineries and confined spaces and their indoor drone inspection service offering using Flyability Elios appeared to the refinery manufacture as a suitable alternative.

SOLUTION AND PROCESS

The complexity of the location, the large number of pipes, and the fact that they could easily be mixed up enforced a very meticulous work approach.

The first thing Industrial SkyWorks did was to identify each pipe. They were marked front and rear. It was decided that 4 flights were needed per pipe to ensure complete coverage. Industrial SkyWorks’ two-man crew set up a charging station just outside the building and using the onboard lights of the Elios, flew to the top of each pipe and descended slowly recording video. The work was completed and the hi-resolution video records of each pipe presented to the client in a matter of days where it would have normally required weeks if proceeding with traditional methods.

CONCLUSION

The Elios drone happened to be a perfect tool for the job. It had been flying continuously for nearly 5 days in a dry and dusty environment imaging both sides of each pipe. The refinery manufacturer was obviously nervous at first as this was a big new gamble for them. However, once they saw the clarity of the raw video footage at the end of the first day, they were incredibly pleased and could not wait to get the footage over to their refinery client to start validating the condition of the asset. The job was a great success, done safely and efficiently, with the desired outcome for the refinery manufacturer and their client. Industrial SkyWorks has since been contacted by the customer to look at inspecting other components they manufacture as well as from the refinery customer themselves for some inspection projects.

The overall savings arising from the use of a drone instead of traditional methods for this inspection is estimated to be 75% in terms of cost and 85% in terms of time. Work at height and associated safety procedures were avoided.

http://www.flyability.com

Mobilicom Ltd. announces a new camera and communication partnership that offers a field-proven, high-end solution for low-latency video plus control and telemetry for commercial UAVs. This highly secured HD video communication solution enables both day and night video broadcast and multicast and will close the development gap for new entrants into the commercial drone market.

Mobilicom and NextVision have teamed up to offer a field-proven integrated high-end solution of encrypted bi-directional communication and a dual-channel EO/IR stabilized camera for commercial drone manufacturers.

Together, they have demonstrated the interoperability of the SkyHopper PRO UAV data link with NextVision’s micro-stabilized cameras.

Oren Elkayam, CEO of Mobilicom Group stated, “The partnership between SkyHopper and NextVision is excellent for customers who are looking for high-end solutions that can fly on small UAVs for security & surveillance, infrastructure inspection, and public safety applications. Proven in the field, this highly secured HD video communication solution enables both day and night video broadcast and multicast, and will close the development gap for new entrants into the commercial drone market.”

As commercial UAV applications such as security & surveillance, infrastructure inspection, mapping and more are shaping this market, there is high demand for high-quality and lightweight communication and video payload solutions.

The interoperability between SkyHopper and NextVision involves end-to-end HD day and night video transmissions alongside camera turret control and feedback over a highly secured IP connection. This solution demonstrates an exceptional video quality and low latency video, telemetry and control. This low latency is crucial for the successful use of camera turrets with a narrow field-of-view.

“This field-proven solution addresses the immediate needs of both veteran and new market players,” commented Michael Grosman, CEO of NextVision Stabilized Systems. “The combination of NextVision’s extremely light weight dual-channel EO/IR stabilized camera turrets with the SkyHopper PRO assures long endurance and exceptional performance usually available on much heavier systems.”

NextVision is the market leader in the field of micro-stabilized gimballed cameras. The Company offers the widest range of field-proven stabilized cameras and accessories for commercial, industrial and security applications. The cameras can be mounted on ground, aerial and maritime platforms, and are the preferred choice where a key requirement is low SWaP2 (Size, Weight, Power and Price) without compromising performance.

The SkyHopper PRO data-link caters specifically to the commercial and industrial drone and robotics market. In leveraging proven technological capabilities and expertise, SkyHopper PRO enables real-time Full HD video, long-range LOS, superior N-LOS, urban and relay operation, broadcasting and multicasting, to unlimited viewers and control by multiple controllers.

SkyHopper PRO is tailored to UAV solutions on the cutting edge, such as Autonomous UAVs, fleet management, swarm operations and cloud-based UAV operations. Today, drone manufacturers oftentimes use separate solutions for control, telemetry and payload, thereby increasing costs and weight. SkyHopper PRO gives drone manufacturers the peace of mind of packaging all drone communication into a single RF channel in a lightweight solution and offers its experienced support team to hit the ground running.

For more information about this integrated solution, visit SkyHopper PRO at http://www.skyhopper.biz, or contact us at info@skyhopper.biz or via phone at +1 747 282 2133

scopitoscopito

Everywhere you look, people are making predictions about how drones are going to be put to use in commercial applications, from farming to fishing to utilities inspections. But when it comes time to get the rubber on the road, it’s sometimes hard to know just how to get the job done, or more precisely, how to understand the data the drones are so good at collecting.

I recently came across a company that is all about that – data management software for drone inspections: Scopito. Founder and CEO, Ken Falk agreed to tell us more about the work he’s doing to bring about a better world through drones.

What is Scopito? Who is it for?

Scopito is a platform that makes it easy to store, analyze and share large amounts of inspection data – especially created for drone operators that want to deliver data to their customers in a professional manner.  It can also be utilized by utility companies that have the need for an efficient way to handle data on their large amounts of infrastructure.

What problem in the drone industry are you a solution for? What advantages do you offer compared to other competitors?

Drones are effective at getting to places that are otherwise hard to access, and at gathering high quality data. The challenge is that the amounts of data to be handled are so big – and this is the problem that we are a solution for.

Our competitors are very focused on 3D models and mapping solutions, where we are focused on visual 2D inspections.

How does Scopito work?

In short, you take a huge amount of pictures from either a drone, helicopter or the ground, then upload them to Scopito, get us to analyze them or do it yourself. And then via the platform you share the data with your customers or colleagues.

Tell us a little bit about the process of development for Scopito. What has the process of development been like, obstacles and successes?

It began in Denmark, 3.5 years ago. I quit my position, after quite some years, at a software company. I was actually pretty happy there – but I kind of knew that I wanted to start something up for myself. And I thought that it would be something with drones. Without knowing more than that, I quit my job to give myself the kick I needed, to follow what I wanted the most.

I got into this entrepreneur program, where one could spend 40 weeks developing an idea for a start up. And I decided to build the world’s best drone. I wanted it to be able to fly 4 times as many minutes as all other helicopter drones on the market. So I spent six months in an old, outworn solarium and build what I had planned. At this point that meant a drone that could fly for a little more than an hour with full sensor package.

I then contacted some utility companies, and they thought it sounded interesting – but weren’t actually interested in buying the drone – they wanted the data. So we changed directions and began selling inspections, delivering everything from drones, flight permissions, pilots and insurances.

When we were to deliver the first inspections we became aware that no system existed that made it feasible to handle all the data. We could without problems deliver a couple of thousand images from a small inspection – but using Windows Picture Viewer and clicking through all this data wasn’t a very scaleable solution. Then we got the idea to develop cloud software that could properly do this – and we founded the company Heliscope, in October 2014, with an investment from an innovation fund.

It was challenging finding the time to both do the inspections and develop the software, because it took a lot of time getting the drones to fly optimally and to fly near power lines. Also, getting the drones stable near high-voltage networks and getting really sharp, focused images, was pretty time consuming.

A bit coincidentally we talked to Denmark’s leading land surveying company, Geopartner – and we sold the inspection business to them, to be able to focus 100 % on developing the software.

Regarding the software, both human and automated processes has it’s up- and downsides. We don’t only have to be able to handle all this data, but also to effectively analyze it. We have people doing this, and we are working on automating it via AI algorithms. The main reason why we want to automate it is that we are talking these huge amounts of data. In Denmark alone, with the current number of inspections, it’s four million pictures a year. Obviously, it is a pretty big job to look through that. And with very repetitive activities, the human brain tends to get less effective with time, and the risk of mistakes is bigger than it will be with the technology that we will eventually see in the future.

And actually we are not seeking to develop these algorithms ourselves, but to find partners from whom we can implement algorithms, from their specific niche – high-voltage networks, wind farms, roads, etc.

What is your vision for Scopito over the next year? How do you envision your company helping to promote and develop the drone industry?

For the next year we’re going to make people aware that we exist. We just recently started our sales and marketing efforts, so not many people know about us yet. So talking to customers and showing them what we can do, and getting their inputs on how they want to use the product, is one thing that we will be doing.

We believe that we are adding to the value chain by giving drone operators an effective way to handle huge amounts of data and deliver it to their customers in a professional way. We believe that having such a system is what makes it possible to work with these huge amounts of data and thereby add value to the data.

Anything else you would like to add?

We would like to offer a gift voucher for a 50% discount for the first 3 months after signing up to the platform. (The platform is already free to use if you upload less than 250 images).

*Voucher code is valid for signups until April 23, 2017.