Solar inspection specialists Above Surveying have agreed to join with the University of Essex to develop a new smart drone for surveying of solar energy sites in Europe and the UK.
Above Surveying will work with Essex researchers as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership supported by Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency. The smart drone project aims to bring sophisticated, accurate and automated monitoring to Europe’s booming solar sector. The smart drone will use intelligent embedded systems and advanced image recognition to measure and identify deterioration of photovoltaic (PV) panels across the growing number of large-scale solar farms.
Solar farms use thousands of solar PV panels to generate green, clean electricity at scale to feed into the grid, but identifying problems and defects on these huge facilities is a significant challenge.
The project will also automate and reduce the number of human interventions required when operating the existing UAVs and processing the large volumes of data collected during a typical inspection. The technology developed through the partnership will form an integral part of Above Surveying’s growth plans, enabling a rapid scaling up across the UK solar market and beyond.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for Above Surveying” said the company’s Managing Director, Will Hitchcock. “Demand for our services is increasing rapidly as the sector wakes up to the necessity of routine thermographic inpsections if they are to maximise their solar assets. Our partnership with the University of Essex and Innovate UK will give us the combined expertise to take our innovative UAV technology to the next level, keeping our business at the forefront of this developing market.”
Dr John Woods from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex added that embedded systems technology has the potential to transform many aspects of modern business and that the University of Essex has a wealth of leading academics in this space.
Above Surveying, based in Colchester, is a leading UK aerial thermographic solar inspection specialist and a pioneer in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for solar farm monitoring.