How smart drones can use AI to unlock new business opportunities

How smart drones can use AI to unlock new business opportunities

Colchester-based Above Surveying is showing how smart drone technology can unlock new markets as it launches a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Essex, which will use AI to develop advanced solar inspection services.

The goal of the partnership is to automate and reduce the number of human interventions required when operating drones and processing imagery data collected during an inspection by using Embedded Systems.

Above Surveying’s recent success is creating jobs in the region with the company planning to recruit a further ten members of staff in 2019 to meet demand. The new partnership with the University will also allow Above Surveying to expand its international reach even further.

The KTPs combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision will help Above Surveying to maintain their position as a market leader in the solar sector by delivering technologically advanced and intuitive inspection and analysis services to the booming solar sector.

Will Hitchcock, Managing Director of Above Surveying, said: “There is now a pressing need to be able to identify and report on a wide variety of issues identified within solar panels across utility scale solar farms. We aim to deliver a range of solutions that can be utilised at scale in order to address forthcoming industry challenges through our latest partnership with the University of Essex.”

Above Surveying is starting its second Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering to further develop its high-tech service, to continue to support their ambitious growth in the UK sector and in international markets.

Through the partnership Above Surveying are combining academics in the fields of AI and computer vision with valuable market intelligence to deliver a range of services that will prove valuable to the utility-scale solar industry.

Above Surveying is committed to a strategy of commercial growth and expansion underpinned by technical innovation, making the recent relocation to the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway Research and Technology Park particularly fitting.

Will Hitchcock, Managing Director of Above Surveying, said: “Our offering has had a fantastic reception across the industry because of its innovative nature and the fact that it combines the latest technology with sound market knowledge to deliver a high-performing, end-to-end product.”

Will said: “We owe it to our clients to keep pushing the boundaries of technology to maintain a cutting-edge service which will enable the solar sector to maximise efficiency and to lower the cost of utility scale solar – vital in a highly competitive energy market.”

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme is a world-leading programme funded by Innovate UK that helps businesses innovate by connecting them to the UK’s wealth of academic resources. A carefully recruited Computer Vision researcher known as the KTP Associate – will be based at Above Surveying full-time and work closely with the University of Essex’s academic team will manage the project.

Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex, said: “Computer vision is a cutting-edge technology in modern business and the University of Essex has a wealth of leading academics in this space. We are excited to work with Above Surveying on a second Knowledge Transfer Partnership and share our expertise and campus facilities to support their ambitious growth plans.”

Robert said: “Bringing growing businesses onto our Colchester Campus is exactly what we are aiming to do as we develop the Knowledge Gateway further. We think there are so many benefits to being able to connect directly in to our expertise and graduate talent.”

The University of Essex is delighted Above Surveying will be completing this project at its new home at the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park. The Knowledge Gateway is an emerging ecosystem of science, technology and digital creative companies based at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus. This allows businesses to benefit from a campus location and to easily connect with Essex researchers including leading academics in the field of data analytics and artificial intelligence.