Zeitview Releases Aerial Inspection Report of U.S. Solar Power Plants. Here’s What They Found.

Zeitview solar inspection, US solar industryZeitview’s Releases Aerial Inspection Report of U.S. Solar Power Plants

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Walker Robinson

Zeitview has released the results of their 2023 North American Solar Scan. Using aerial imaging they have determined that 51% of operational systems are in excellent or good condition.

Based in Santa Monica, CA, Zeitview is a leader in aerial inspection technology and committed to advancing the transition to renewable energy. They combine aerial imagery with AI-enabled software to identify actionable insights for utility-scale solar owners and operators. Zeitview intends to expand its operations beyond North America, with a goal of inspecting 200 gigawatts (GW) of operational solar installations globally.

In the United States, solar photovoltaic has become the fastest growing energy generation technology, and complementary technologies such as UAV and aerial imaging offer modern solutions to meet the accelerating industry’s needs. There are more than 100 GW of large-scale solar in operation today and an additional 150 GW planned for installation in the next five years. Zeitview’s aerial inspection technology offers valuable insights into efficiency losses, deterioration, and defects in new and existing solar installations.

Using a combination of manned and unmanned aircrafts, Zeitview gathers both photographic and thermal imaging. This data is put through AI-enabled software trained to detect specific defects in solar photovoltaic equipment and the results are reviewed by solar industry experts. Ultimately, this allows solar fleet owners and operators to make informed decisions for their installations, saving money and allowing them to use their labor resources in the most efficient way possible.

Zeitview’s North American Solar Scan[1] includes data from 90% of the largest solar installations in North America, assigning installations with a rating from AAA to DDD based on the site’s condition. Of the 95 megawatts recorded, 51% of the solar plants received a BBB rating or higher, reflecting that they were in good or excellent operational condition. Only 2% of the installations were determined to be truly distressed, and the remaining 47% were determined to require varying degrees of service to attain a “good” or “excellent” rating.

“The insights offered by the North American Solar Scan provide the oversight crucial to maintaining high-performing assets to enable a successful clean energy transition. This data can tell owners and O&M firms specifically where to troubleshoot while saving them money on inspection costs. More importantly, it helps focus the limited labor resources on the power plants that actually need attention,” said Mark Culpepper, general manager of global solar solutions at Zeitview.

Continued optimization and incentivization of renewable energy have led to a 45% of electricity-generation additions in 2023 coming from the solar industry[2]. The utilization of drones for aerial inspection offers a solution to the constraints facing the inspection and maintenance of solar arrays. Zeitview will further showcase their findings, asset rating system, and imaging technology at the RE+ convention September 11-14 in Las Vegas, Nevada[3].

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Walker Robinson is a 2022 Graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara with a passion for renewable energy and emerging technologies. An early career professional experienced in both sales and development of residential and utility-scale renewable energy systems, he is delighted to be part of the drone industry.

AI-Powered Analytics, Digital Twins: Pointivo for Asset Inspection, with SmartNav™ [VIDEO]

Pointivo for Asset Inspection, Pointivo Digital TwinsPointivo Introduces Pointivo for Asset Inspection with SmartNavTM Technology

A new AI-driven digital twin product: capture, inspect, and report asset deficiencies.

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Founded in 2014, Atlanta-based Pointivo is a pioneer in digital twins and analytics, developing a wide portfolio of the enabling technologies used as in-house systems in enterprise organizations.  Now, Pointivo continues its mission in powering the inspection, monitoring and management of physical assets with Pointive for Asset Inspection – the only solution on the market with Pointivo’s patented digital twin, SmartNav™ technology.

Digital Twins and Asset Inspection

Digital twins, enabled by drone data capture, have been revolutionary for enterprises managing physical assets.  Digital twins offer an accurate, easily shared visual understanding of  the physical world.  When AI-powered analytics are applied to these digital representations of physical assets, the results are a quantum leap forward in inspection and predictive maintenance: accelerating the discovery, observation, and resolution of problem areas.

Pointivo for Asset Inspection is built on top of Pointivo’s digital twin platform and created to work in conjunction with Pointivo’s specialized industry-specific applications, offering both automation and AI-driven features and benefits.

Pointivo for Asset Inspection is ideal for global organizations in the telecom, facility, and property management, oil and gas, and utility industries as well as technology, engineering, consulting firms, and specialized drone service providers seeking to inspect multiple assets from any location. The new inspection platform provides Pointivo’s customers with the following:

    • The power and precision of SmartNavTM technology – a precise 360o visual navigation system that powers virtual inspection.
    • Patented AI can automate common tasks such as identifying areas of interest, highlighting common problem areas, and auto-detecting changes across time.
    • A detailed AI-driven assistant, DigitalTwinGPTTM, for problem-resolution suggestions.
  • Fast, flexible, and easy-to-use customized reporting.

“This product was built for all types of physical assets and industries. We’re excited to see how organizations use our powerful, once white-labeled, platform and patented technologies to get more done – faster and safer than ever before,” stated Jacob Garland, CTO, “To put it simply – capture once, inspect many, and get the right information to the right people easily.”

Pointivo for Asset Inspection is a solution for organizations to complete virtual inspections while maximizing operational efficiency. It addresses workforce shortages, reduces errors, increases safety, and saves on time, travel, and expenses while providing customized reports and analytics for diverse teams across the organization.

“We are excited to bring our AI-driven inspection capabilities to a broader set of enterprise users,” stated Dan Ciprari, CEO. “Pointivo for Asset Inspection empowers global corporations with an intuitive, comprehensive solution that greatly simplifies processes around their assets for the full lifecycle of those assets.”

To learn more about Pointivo for Asset Inspection: pointivo.com.

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Commercial Drone Pilots in UK – (Ultimate Guide)

As drones become more popular in many industries, including video creation and inspection, making money with your drone is more accessible than ever.

Commercial Drone Pilots in UK - (Ultimate Guide)

But how do you become a commercial drone pilot in the UK?

Since December 31st, 2021, you won’t need a special license to fly a drone commercially in the UK. You will be required to have a Flyer and Operator ID, drone insurance compliant with EC785/2004, and apply for A2CofC or GVC certificates if required by your type of flight.

This ultimate guide will take you through all the requirements to become a commercial drone pilot in the UK.

Top Drone Courses

How to get a flyer ID and operator ID in the UK

To become a commercial pilot in the UK, you need Flyer ID and Operator ID certificates.

What are Flyer ID and Operator ID?

  • The Flyer ID is a certificate showing that you passed your introductory drone flight and know how to fly a drone in the UK.
  • The Operator ID is a certificate where you have to label your Operator ID code on a drone or model aircraft, and the pilot is responsible for the drone and who flies it. 

For example, if you have a DJI Mini 3 Pro, which is under 250 grams, you won’t need a Flyer ID, but you will be required to label it with an Operator ID. 

You can give this drone to someone else to fly (even without Flyer ID), but you will be responsible for that person flying the drone.

Your drone will also be classified in a specific category depending on your type of flight.

Flying Weight Flyer ID Operator ID
Drone below 250 grams – toy No No
Drone below 250 grams – not a toy without a camera No No
Drone below 250 grams – not a toy with a camera No Yes
Drone above 250 grams Yes Yes
Categories Type of Flying
Open A1 and A3 Basic, low-risk flying
Open A2 Higher risk of flying than A1 and A3
Specific Moderate risk of flying
Certified High risk with complex flying

Applying for a Flyer ID is easy and costs you nothing. Moreover, Flyer IDs are available for five years.

Therefore, if you plan to become a commercial drone pilot in the UK, whether the Flyer ID is required, why not get one? It’s all done online.

An Operator ID costs £10.33 ($13) and is valid for one year.

To get a Flyer ID, you can start from this page.

You will find all the requirements, links to prepare for the theory tests, and every step to get the Flyer ID.

To get an Operator ID, you can start from this page.

Please note that you must be 18 or over to apply for an Operator ID.

Registering your drone in the UK

No matter how many drones you have, each aircraft you want to fly should have a label with your Operator ID unless it’s a toy drone. 

Having contact details on the label is not mandatory, but it’s a good practice if you lose your drone and someone else finds it.

» MORE: Do I Need to Register My Drone in the UK? (Explained)

Requirements to apply for a commercial license in the UK

Since December 31st, 2020, you are not required to have a specific drone license to use your drone for commercial reasons.

However, with this being the case, you will be restricted to the basic type of flights in the A1 and A3 categories.

To fly in congested areas, you must apply for an A2 Certificate of Competency (A2CofC).

This applies to flying drones between 250 grams and 2 kilograms in congested areas but not directly above people. 

The A2CofC will usually cost you less than £100 and can be done online.

The general VLOS Certificate (GVC) is yet another option to obtain a certificate if you want to apply for Specific Category types of flights (outside of A2 as required to get A2CofC).

This type of certificate is a lot more expensive and should cover theoretical learning and tests and practical exams with certified pilots in specific locations.

Generally, the most suggested license that should cover numerous commercial activities is, in fact, the GVC.

When you want to apply for a commercial license in the UK, you must know what type of flights you will perform, with what drone, and which categories should apply for you to understand what license you will need.

Note: Commercial drone operations will require mandatory insurance compliant with EC785/2004 for commercial drone flights on the UK territory.

The certified category will require further certification on top of GVC and A2CofC, which should cover the most complex and high-risk types of flights, often needed in complex industries where the GVC isn’t sufficient.

A handful of UK companies are certified by CAA to commercialize their courses and can offer these types of certificates by pursuing their requirements.

UAVHUB and UAVACADEMY are two or many companies that offer both courses to help you take the A2 CofC and GVC certificates.

What drone license do I need?

This will mostly depend on what type of commercial drone pilot you want to be.

For many jobs, you won’t need more than the A2 CofC certificate, but most commercial drone pilots in the UK have taken the GVC to cover their needs in terms of commercial applications.

The certified category will cover a risk equivalent of piloting a manned aircraft. You will unlikely need to apply for the certificate category to fly your drone commercially.

As for now, the UK regulation related to the certified category is still being developed and has not been published (CAA).

» MORE: Can I Fly a Drone over a Motorway? (UK)

How are commercial drone pilots affected by BREXIT? 

Ever since BREXIT, there have been a couple of changes in drone laws and regulations in the UK.

One of the significant changes that positively impacted drone pilots who want to fly for commercial purposes was the end of PfCO on December 31st, 2021, which was equivalent to an A2 certificate required for commercial purposes.

That certificate used to be complicated to obtain. You had to be registered to CAA for permission, and its cost could exceed £1,000 with a high annual fee.

Ever since, there has been no need for a specific commercial license for basic commercial drone flying in the UK.

Still, taking the A2 CofC and GVC certificates is recommended to abide by drone laws and regulations when flying your drone for such purposes.

As well, don’t forget that you will have to apply for drone insurance that has to be compliant with EC785/2004 if you want to fly commercially.

Any drone over 20 kilograms will require mandatory drone insurance to fly, wherever the type of flight.

There have been some other minor changes to the drone laws and regulations but nothing of concern at this time.

Drone laws in the UK

To fly any type of drone in the UK, you must abide by the current drone laws set by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

First, as mentioned, you may need a Flyer ID and Operator ID to fly commercially in the UK and further apply for the required certificate if needed.

Here are the drone laws in the UK.

  • You’re responsible for your flight.
  • Keep your drone in sight at all times, and be aware of the surrounding airspace.
  • To fly a drone while observing a phone screen, tablet or with goggles is all considered FPV flight by the UK CAA laws, which will require you to have an observer with you (and not only with FPV goggles).
  • Fly below 120m (400ft) from the closest point of the earth’s surface.
  • Do not fly closer to strangers than 50m (164ft); this doesn’t apply to people with you involved.
    • You can fly closer to people than 50 meters and above them if your drone is below 250 grams.
    • You can fly closer to people than 50 meters but not intentionally above them if your drone is between 250 and 500 grams.
  • Always keep a safe distance from others, especially in poor weather.
  • Never fly over crowds, no matter what drone you have.
  • You must keep at least 150 meters (492ft) from residential, recreational, commercial, and industrial buildings and sites. This doesn’t apply to drones under 250 grams.
  • Keep your distance from any airport or aircraft. 
  • Follow any restrictions and hazards before flying your drone.
  • Although these laws apply mainly to A1 and A3 categories, you must apply for correct authorization to fly beyond any specific drone laws.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in a UK National Park?

What is a commercial drone pilot in the UK?

A commercial drone pilot in the UK classifies as any drone pilot who flies their drone and obtains money in exchange, wherever you do inspections, map, or upload your drone footage on a monetized YouTube channel.

As we have explained in this article, nowadays, there isn’t much difference in the requirements to fly a drone commercially and recreationally.

Still, it all depends on the category you’re flying your drone.

» MORE: How to Become a Commercial Drone Pilot in the UK

How much do commercial drone pilots make in the UK?

The UK is a first-world country where technology is developing rapidly, and the use of commercial drones for different activities is higher than ever before.

The UK has fewer restrictions in concordance with flying drones commercially compared to other countries, so more pilots offer their services for commercial purposes.

The salary you’ll earn in the UK as a commercial drone pilot can drastically depend on many factors, such as what type of license you have, what type of services you offer, and what area you are flying the drone for commercial reasons.

According to Economic Research Institute, the average income for a commercial drone pilot in London is around £48,000 per year ($61,000) or an average of £23 ($29) per hour.

In other parts of the UK, a commercial drone pilot will earn less (also, the living cost is lower), but this is a simple average.

In contrast, experienced pilots with all certifications and rich drone gear, on top of what contracts they can acquire as commercial drone pilots, may even cross the £100k mark a year.

Sharper Shape Launches Powerline Inspection Software for Drone Service Providers

Sharper Shape Power Line InspectionSharper Shape Launches Powerline Inspection Software for Drone Service Providers

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Powerline management solutions provider Sharper Shape has announced a contract with drone solutions leader Volatus Aerospace, officially launching Sharper Shape’s new drone service providers (DSP) management. DSP Management grants drone service providers a digital platform (CORE) for coordinating, managing, and delivering data collection projects all in one place. The service is also available to arborists and inspection companies that utilize unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the inspection of utility transmission and distribution systems, like power lines. CORE is available both on a web browser and as an app, enabling real-time and remote use in the field.

“Sharper Shape has been known for its drone inspection services, but in recent years, it has been our Living Digital Twin data and analytics capabilities that have allowed us to stand out from the crowd. Naturally, we started offering our software solution to the utilities that we are working with, but it made sense to extend that offering to other UAV, arborist and inspection companies working in this space,” said Sharper Shape VP of Sales and Commercial Processes Kristy McDermott. “CORE allows drone operators the capability to transform how it collects, displays, and shares data with its customers. Typical pain points tend to include the cumbersome planning and administrative processes associated with inspections, the inconsistency of systems and software from spreadsheets to visualization tools. DSP CORE eliminates these, and more, while offering a stunning user interface that translates data, giving utilities a clearer, real-time view of their asset.”

The first to strike a deal with Sharper Shape for its DSP Management software solution, Volatus Aerospace has established itself in the drone services market through its offerings of infrastructure inspection, mapping, and modeling services. Volatus has leveraged its expertise into the key sectors of industrial inspection, precision agriculture, public safety, drone cargo logistics, and security and defense.

“As pioneers in the field of transmission and distribution line UAV inspections, we recognize the pivotal role of strategic partnerships with forward-thinking solution providers in propelling our continued growth,” said Frank Segarra, CEO of Volatus Aerospace US subsidiary ConnexiCore. “Our collaboration with Sharper Shape, a renowned innovator, is a testament to our commitment to groundbreaking advancements. By harnessing the power of their transformative software solutions, specifically their cutting-edge DSP Management software, CORE, we are poised to revolutionize the way we analyze and present data to our valued customers. This game-changing technology will optimize efficiencies across every aspect of our operations, cementing our position at the forefront of the industry.”

“We’re delighted to have Volatus Aerospace on the books,” McDermott added. “Volatus is a highly respected provider, and CORE will allow them to elevate the already great work they do by offering their customers a solution that will save time and money, while improving operational efficiencies of their assets.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer

T-Mobile and Valmont Industries Complete 77-mile,3-hour 5G BVLOS Drone Flight over Tural Texas

Valmont Industries Inc. and T-Mobile announced the completion of an industry-first long-distance BVLOS drone inspection flight enabled by 5G.

Traditional methods for infrastructure monitoring typically require extensive manpower, manned aircraft operations or ground-based inspections, which involve significant safety risks, more time and more money.

But not anymore ― especially now that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is granting more waivers for BVLOS drone operations. And as one of the first companies in the U.S. to receive said waiver, Valmont is ahead of the game.

In under three hours, Valmont accomplished a non-stop 77-mile drone mission from Childress to Aspermont, Texas inspecting vital infrastructure like power lines, railroads, bridges and more. The drone used a Harris Aerial H6E drone equipped with a T-Mobile 5G connected Sony A7RM5 camera. Significantly faster and more fuel efficient, this task was three times faster than conventional methods, while using less than two gallons of fuel.

Mission highlights:

  • Valmont drone inspection teams used less than one-fourth gallon of fuel per hour.
  • Flight pushes average distance of UAS inspections from less than 20 miles per day to more than 60.
  • Even though the route was very rural, T-Mobile 5G provided live data transfer throughout the three-hour flight.
  • The Sony A7RM5 combined with the ability to fly closely to utility lines, provided high-resolution details for critical infrastructure inspection.
  • The flight proves that drones are a viable, safe, and efficient alternative to helicopters for infrastructure.
  • Harris Aerial’s drone and Valmont’s proprietary payload are fully National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compliant.

“Range has been a hurdle in the drone inspection space, until now,” said Jake Lahmann, UAS Manager at Valmont Industries Inc. “To be able to get this kind of range in a single drone flight is really going to revolutionize the way the industry approaches infrastructure inspections.”

“5G was built to make life easier,” added Ulf Ewaldsson, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “Whether it’s connecting a person on their smartphone or improving long-range drone infrastructure inspections, there is no doubt that the reach and speed of T-Mobile 5G is making it possible for entire industries to revolutionize the way they work.”

With 5G, Valmont’s drone inspection service is another example of 5G-enabled technologies that can be used to quickly respond to or prevent an emergency. By preemptively monitoring infrastructure sites with greater accuracy, Valmont can help prevent malfunctions and breakdowns before they have a chance to have a widespread impact.

Working closely with the FAA on BVLOS drone operation policies, Valmont plans to offer drone-in-a-box (DiaB) services nationwide in 2024. This enables anyone needing aerial inspection services the ability to order a drone, unbox it and watch it run its inspection while a Valmont pilot flies it remotely from virtually anywhere in the U.S.

T-Mobile is the leader in 5G, delivering the country’s largest, fastest and most awarded 5G network. The Un-carrier’s 5G network covers 326 million people across two million square miles — more than AT&T and Verizon combined. 275 million people nationwide are covered by T-Mobile’s super-fast Ultra Capacity 5G, and the Un-carrier plans to reach 300 million people with Ultra Capacity this year — nearly everyone in the country. T-Mobile 5G is available on all T-Mobile phone plans.

Source: Press Release


Percepto Raises $67M Series C Funding

Percepto, the autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, announced a combined $67M Series C in equity and debt funding, led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), alongside new investors Zimmer Partners and one of the largest U.S. energy companies.

The round includes participation from existing investors U.S. Venture Partners, Delek US Holdings, Atento Capital, Spider Capital and Arkin Holdings, bringing the total investment in the company to more than $120 million, reflecting Percepto’s strong performance and confidence in its robust offering.

Percepto recently received an unprecedented, nationwide Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS) waiver from the FAA, allowing the company to provide any US critical infrastructure site with remotely-operated automated drones without the need for site specific approvals from the FAA. A game changer for the industry, this waiver removes logistical and cost barriers, such as the need for radars or people on the ground, fueling the adoption of autonomous drone technology.

“KDT’s reinvestment underlines their confidence in our ability to make companies more profitable by keeping infrastructure operational in the face of the unpredictable,” said Percepto Co-founder and CEO Dor Abuhasira. “Organizations are increasingly discovering the benefits of autonomous and remote drone operations to automate facility inspections and data analysis across their sites. With this new round of funding, new strategic investors, and the new regulations that significantly increase the access to using autonomous drones, the conditions are ripe for the autonomous drone market to expand, and for Percepto to meet the growing demand for automated drone inspections and monitoring at industrial sites.”

Heavy industry confronts major challenges to operate efficiently, maintain reliable critical infrastructure, meet high productivity expectations, and increase safety levels – all in the face of complex, hazardous and often aging infrastructure assets. Percepto helps industrial companies save seven-figure amounts and meet these challenges by allowing real-time visibility into their facility’s infrastructure integrity, and finding failures before they escalate into incidents. In one instance, an oil & gas customer using Percepto’s Air Max OGI drone detected within hours a methane gas leak that could have gone unnoticed for months using conventional methods, saving the company millions of dollars, minimizing safety risks to workers, and preventing environmental damage.

“Percepto is a powerful force in boosting the accessibility of automated drones for industrial inspection and monitoring,” said Chase Koch, Founder and CEO of Koch Disruptive Technologies. “Having deployed Percepto’s technology across various Koch companies, we are experiencing first-hand how its innovative R&D improves inspection and monitoring. Their work to create a clear regulatory path for this technology puts it in a strong market position, firmly stationed at the forefront of the industry. We look forward to continuing our journey with Percepto as it sets the new standard for making industrial operations safe, efficient and sustainable.”

Percepto Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring (AIM), the company’s end-to-end visual inspection solution powered by autonomous drones, robots and AI, enables critical infrastructure sites to increase the frequency and quality of inspections via automation. The solution automates the entire visual inspection workflow, from data collection to AI-powered analysis and insights. With Percepto AIM, problems such as gas leaks, overheating and infrastructure deterioration are detected faster so companies, such as Siemens Energy, can take preventative measures to make sites more productive while minimizing the risk of environmental and safety incidents to meet their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals.

“Percepto’s unique AI technology provides heavy industry with a path to maximize their efficiency and ensure smooth operations both in terms of providing a safe environment for workers and generating high productivity levels,” said Siemens Energy Venture Partner Illai Gescheit. “We are impressed with Percepto’s growth within a turbulent market, and look forward to working with them as they continue to pioneer drone regulations and innovations that will help deliver commercial value to our customers while fulfilling their environmental responsibilities.”

Source: Press Release

The Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant (DIIG) Act of 2023

Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant ActThe U.S. Congress is again discussing a Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, which would offer funding for drone technology and training to support the president’s infrastructure development package.

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H.R. 3595, introduced by Rep Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Garret Graves (R-LA), is a reprise of the 2021 H.R. 5315, which passed in the House but did not progress in the Senate last year.  The grant supports the drone industry in several ways, not least in the acknowledgement that drone technology offers significant efficiencies for infrastructure inspection.  The Act would provide funding for state, local, and tribal governments to purchase or contract for approved drone technology to “perform critical infrastructure inspection, maintenance, rehabilitation, or construction projects,” says a Rep. Stanton press release on H.R. 5315.

“Drones are a common-sense tool to inspect some of the toughest to reach parts of our infrastructure,” said Stanton. “It’s safer, speedier and more sustainable. These grants will go a long way to help state, local and tribal governments invest in this cutting-edge technology and better care for aging infrastructure.”

Additionally, the DIIG Act would provide funding to institutions of higher education, including community colleges, to develop drone workforce training.  This aligns with sections of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which tasked the FAA with creating the UAS Collegiate Training Initiative.

Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer for the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said the DIIG Act would help the U.S. drone industry remain competitive.

“Drones are being relied on as indispensable tools for critical operations, including infrastructure inspections — and that role will only continue to grow as the technology advances further. The future of aviation leadership is in autonomy, and the United States must invest in supporting the drone industry and growing workforce,” said Robbins. “The DIIG act accomplishes both goals by providing states with grants to funding to acquire and utilize secure drones for infrastructure inspection and to train the workforce to conduct these critical missions.”

“The U.S. cannot afford to fall behind in the drone industry’s ability to attract capital, investment, and workforce,” said Robbins. “Congress should pass this commonsense legislation to help level the playing field for the U.S. drone industry and to encourage the infrastructure and workforce benefits the DIIG ACT would bring to communities nationwide.”

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XTEND Acquires Drone Inspection Specialist Performance Rotors

XTEND acquires Performance RotorsXTEND Acquires Drone Inspection Specialist Performance Rotors

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Human-guided autonomous machine system developer XTEND has acquired drone inspection specialist Performance Rotors, allowing XTEND to improve its ability to offer human-guided, remote interactive operations in various inspection scenarios, as well as grow its global business.

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“Our acquisition of Performance Rotors marks the latest step in furthering XTEND’s vision of making remote interactive operations accessible to everyone, in a range of scenarios, including inspection, public safety and security,” said XTEND co-founder and CEO Aviv Shapira. “Every day, people risk their lives to make our world safer. Inspection is just one area, among many, where machines, robots and drones can be used to accomplish what people can’t, in a more economical, efficient, and safer manner. We are delighted that Keith Ng, Performance Rotors’ co-founder and CEO, and his team are joining XTEND on our journey towards making XOS the operating system of choice for controlling drones, robots, vehicles, smart devices, and smart machines remotely, safely, and intuitively.”

XTEND offers human-guided autonomous machine systems allowing operators to carry out complex and accurate maneuvers with minimal training. Its XOS operating system allows for reliable autonomy, combining human intelligence with machine autonomy to improve the operator’s abilities and lower the risk of injury. This system lets professionals operate drones and smart machines, performing intricate operations requiring human interaction and decision-making from a remote position.

“Performance Rotors’s mission has always been to develop drones and robotics solutions for data acquisition in GPS-denied and confined space environments, without the risk to human lives,” said Performance Rotors co-founder and CEO Keith Ng. “Our extensive client base spans many of the world’s major oil and gas, maritime and infrastructure projects, and our hardware is being used across the World, particularly in APAC. We are confident that combining XTEND’s innovation XOS software with our world-class technology brings the best of the industry together in one powerful and easy to use solution that comprehensively addresses the critical challenges facing our customers today.”

The acquisition was led by global private equity firm Chartered Group. “The acquisition of Performance Rotors not only enriches XTEND’s offering in industrial inspection, but it will also enable Aviv and his team to further diversify their expertise in oil and gas, maritime and infrastructure projects, and develop XTEND’s software business globally, particularly here in APAC and Japan,” said Chartered Group Chairman Eyal Agmoni.

XTEND was recently awarded several multi-million dollar contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and MAFAT, the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Research & Development Directorate, to optimize their drone operations. Both entities already employ XOS, allowing military drone operators to interactively operate multiple smart machines from a remote, safe distance, with no training necessary.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Percepto Receives Ground-Breaking FAA Waiver to Scale Shielded Beyond Visual Line of Sight Commercial Drone Operations Nationwide 

Percepto, an industry-leading autonomous inspection and monitoring solutions provider, today announced receipt of an unprecedented waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The significant approval allows the company to operate uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in shielded airspace, without humans onsite, and without expensive and cumbersome ground-based or airborne detect and avoid (DAA) systems, for inspection and monitoring operations at critical and non-critical infrastructure sites nationwide.

Under the waiver, low risk “shielded” BVLOS operations are authorized 200 feet above and around assets located on critical infrastructure sites. At non-critical infrastructure sites, shielded BVLOS operations are permitted 50 feet higher than the tallest obstruction located within a half-mile of the site.

This achievement for Percepto will benefit the whole industry as the industry seeks to scale true BVLOS UAS operations for inspection and monitoring, and is a crucial step in fully integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).

Percepto proactively engaged with the FAA throughout the waiver application process and demonstrated to the FAA that the company can operate BVLOS close to structures safely without costly ground based or airborne DAA systems.

The operations authorized under this approval build upon recommendations made by the UAS BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) chartered by the FAA. The ARC correctly recognized that shielded airspace near structures and other obstacles where crewed aircraft do not typically operate could be leveraged as a safety mitigation to support safe, scalable, and economically viable UAS BVLOS operations. Percepto served as a member on the BVLOS ARC. 

“Percepto is very grateful to the FAA staff for their engagement and consideration of our application for this important waiver,” said Neta Gliksman, Percepto VP of Policy and Government Affairs. “This waiver will help usher in a new era of scalable UAS operations that will benefit the critical infrastructure industry immediately, and in the future, in ways we haven’t even yet imagined.”

“This waiver’s implications for BVLOS UAS operations in the United States are massive,” said Lisa Ellman, Chair of the Global UAS Practice at Hogan Lovells and Outside Counsel to Percepto. “The FAA waiver provides scalability to businesses and encourages innovation across the industry, which will yield significant benefits for critical infrastructure facilities and the American people.”

“The use of Percepto’s UAS to perform critical infrastructure inspections significantly improves worker safety and efficiency of operations by allowing inspections to occur remotely from anywhere in the United States,“ said Danny Allen, Geospatial Intelligence Supervisor at ConocoPhillips.

“The ability to conduct remote BVLOS inspections without humans supervising the system and without the need for costly DAA assets will increase the value of the Percepto system while significantly reduce costs and barriers to BVLOS operations at our critical infrastructure and industrial commercial sites nationwide,” said Tim Shanfelt, PMP, Operations Enablement Director, Koch Ag and Energy Solutions.

About Percepto

Percepto is the leading autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, revolutionizing how industrial sites monitor and inspect their critical infrastructure and assets.

Listed in TIME magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2021, Percepto’s AIM platform fully automates visual data workflows from capture to insight, leveraging the Percepto Air drone-in-a-box portfolio, alongside other robots and visual sensors. Using advanced machine learning and AI, Percepto AIM provides an end-to-end autonomous inspection and monitoring solution to assess risk, minimize downtime, drive efficiency, increase safety and reduce operational costs.

Percepto’s solutions are trusted by Fortune 500 customers on six continents including Siemens Energy, Delek US, Koch Fertilizer and ICL Dead Sea Works. The company is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards including Edison Gold Award and Frost & Sullivan Global Enabling Technology Leadership Award.

For more information, visit www.percepto.co 

Percepto Survey Highlights Environmental and Safety Risks to Critical Assets Due to Insufficient Inspections of Industrial Sites

Percepto, the leading autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, today released survey results exposing the lack of usage of proven, advanced technologies such as drones, robotics and AI to inspect and monitor industrial sites – despite best intentions to keep employees safe and reach environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals.

Respondents indicated that some hazardous assets, such as power grids and pipelines, are largely unmonitored for long periods of time, leaving infrastructure vulnerable to large scale failures such as fires, oil spills and gas leaks. Failing to detect faults in time can have far-reaching consequences, such as loss of life, billions of dollars in fines for environmental infractions and lost profits. While most energy and oil & gas companies collect huge amounts of visual data in the form of images and video, only 12% of those surveyed indicated they are using artificial intelligence for automating data analysis to gain insights.

“Drones, robotics and AI allow for automated visual infrastructure inspections at a pace, scale and accuracy level that humans alone cannot deliver using traditional visual inspection methods, particularly for hazardous, hard-to-reach assets,” said Percepto Co-founder and CEO Dor Abuhasira. “The heavy reliance on labor-intensive, manual methods suggests a lack of awareness of how AI can be utilized to ensure the highest levels of safety, productivity, asset reliability and adherence to regulations, representing a vast untapped technological resource.”

Some key survey findings:

  • While many industrial organizations today are striving to upgrade their visual inspection to Industry 4.0 standards, all (100%) respondents still rely on manned visual inspection, while none are using robots and only 16% are using drones.
  • “Increasing site safety” was a main driver for visual inspections by respondents (98%), higher than those seeking to maintain the reliability of their operations (66%) and regulatory compliance (29%).
  • A third of respondents (35%) are still using in-house developed analysis tools which are typically not best-of-breed in the market. This suboptimal data management can result in relevant insights not reaching the right stakeholders, repairs not being performed in time, and in extreme cases – data not being analyzed at all.

By using drones and robots coupled with AI-powered analysis software for their data management, companies can monitor their site health with far greater safety, speed, efficiency, and accuracy from anywhere, and allow all relevant stakeholders easy access to both the data itself as well as to the derived insights.

The survey queried 200 managers and executives within the energy and oil and gas industries half of which were from North America, 25% from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and 25% from the Asia-Pacific region (APAC).

About Percepto

Percepto is the leading autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, revolutionizing how industrial sites monitor and inspect their critical infrastructure and assets.

Listed in TIME magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2021, Percepto’s AIM platform fully automates visual data workflows from capture to insight, leveraging the Percepto Air drone-in-a-box portfolio, alongside other robots and visual sensors. Using advanced machine learning and AI, Percepto AIM provides an end-to-end autonomous inspection and monitoring solution to assess risk, minimize downtime, drive efficiency, increase safety and reduce operational costs.

Percepto’s solutions are trusted by Fortune 500 customers on six continents including Siemens Energy, Delek US, Koch Fertilizer and ICL Dead Sea Works. The company is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards including Edison Gold Award and Frost & Sullivan Global Enabling Technology Leadership Award. For more information, visit www.percepto.co.