Inspection Drone Firm Partners with Indian Utility

screen shot sharper shapeOne of India’s largest energy provides is teaming up with an American-based drone company to improve power-line inspections.

Sharper Shape announced a strategic partnership with Sterlite Power last week to deploy the company’s automated, drone-based inspection packages for power-line inspections as well as th
e monitoring of the utility’s other assets.

Under the agreement, Sterlite will fund an undisclosed minority stake in Sharper Shape. India’s largest private utility power company, Sterlite owns more than 4,000 miles of power lines across 15 Indian states and has invested more than $2 billion in 10 utility projects.

“Drones are transforming the way in which infrastructure is built and maintained,” Sterlite CEO Pratik Agarwal stated in a joint press release.

Sharper Shape produces UAV automated inspection and maintenance planning services for infrastructure asset owners. According to a company statement, Sharper Shape’s “Next Eagle solution is the world’s first automatic asset inspection solution utilizing UAV, which drastically reduces inspection and maintenance costs for high value assets such as power lines, pipelines, railways and more.”

In a recent DroneLife guest post, Sharper Shape CEO Tero Heinonen said the company deploys drones equipped with LIDAR tech as “a more efficient way to scan tens of thousands of miles of power lines at a much cheaper cost.”

“With long-distance drone inspections, our power grid will be better protected from encroaching trees, which will decrease the number of power outages in our neighborhoods and prevent destructive wildfires.” Heinonen added.

The partnership will have to get the blessing of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation before launch. The agency is still working out a comprehensive drone regulation plan so the partnership could be delayed until then.

Sharper Shape has already established the Edison Electric Institute/Sharper Utility partnership in the U.S. – a collaboration the company says is “aimed at demonstrating and developing commercial long-distance drone flights for electric companies.”

“India has a power transmission network of more than a million circuit kilometers which is undergoing double-digit growth annually. The use of drones will increase the uptime of the grid, reduce transmission tariffs, avoid grid blackouts, and also save the environment by reducing deforestation along the line corridors.”

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