Image Analytics in Drone Operations for Energy and Utilities

Image Analytics in Drone Operations for Energy and Utilities

Ulrika Mann

Ulrika Mann,

Drones are cool for sure, but can the images they provide be used to create tangible business value? Images contain a tremendous amount of information, and it’s when you combine drone operations with AI and analysis, the real magic happens. This is how it can be applied in the energy and utilities sector. 

At ONS in Stavanger in August, Kenneth Kranz, CTO, Chief Pilot and Sr. Technical Architect at Cognizant Technologies Solution’s Drone Venture, hosted an interesting session on drones, AI and image analytics in the energy and utilities sector. The applications are really unlimited; hazardous site inspections, rust detection, wind turbine inspections, crack detection, facility plant health, substation, lines and pole inspections, monitoring of oil spills, to name a few.

Everywhere where it’s dangerous, difficult or even impossible for humans to go, a drone can do the job instead. They get in closer, at different heights and new angles, and can detect errors and defects that aren’t even visible to the human eye. What’s more, over time, they can help you see new patterns.

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Using a drone to conduct exploratory research, assess existing equipment and monitor operations, can generate a massive amount of useful data. But when you hit the 200–300 image point, it simply becomes impossible to analyze the information manually.

The real challenge for energy and utilities companies is to efficiently organize the data and transfer it to the researchers and decision-makers who need it. (And actually, the images don’t even have to come from drones; they could come from satellites, surveillance vehicles, etc.)

What to do then? For the images to be useful, you need to feed them into a system that automatically helps you analyze and act on them. This is where Cognizant’s expertise in machine vision, image analytics and AI comes in. We offer integration, application building, maintenance and support under one umbrella. By converting the images to applications that detect issues and discover patterns, you can reduce risk and downtime, increase safety and overall be more pro-active.

For example, one client uses drones and AI to look for things like sagging wires, differences between wires, bird nests on towers, what birds that are in there, and thanks to the detailed reports the client can immediately spot what facilities that have issues and allocate necessary resources to handle it. If you want to learn more, please visit our page about image analytics and drones.