Drone technology assists wildfire mitigation

May 31, 2022: CPI proud to be working with Brains4Drones.

Last week, DOE’s Office of Electricity awarded Brains4Drones (Plano, TX) with a Phase III SBIR award to assist electric utilities with wildfire mitigation. Founded in 2016, the woman-owned Brains4Drones, specializes in robotics, and in the development and installation of artificial intelligence (AI) on drones. When real-time visual intelligence is added to a drone, utility inspections can be completed much faster and safer.

Brains4Drones will be working with Central Electric Co-Op in Redmond, OR and Consumers Power, Inc. in Philomath, OR. This project will focus on adapting Brains4Drones’ drone-based solutions to prevent the start of wildfires near distribution lines and equipment by performing lines and vegetation inspections. Their Gimbal+ will enable the drone to find poles and perform automated 360-degree pole top inspections and their Shutter+ capability will find, frame and photograph every distribution pole. In addition, Brains4Drones will be developing additional AI algorithms, integrate the necessary sensors for defect detection and develop prototypes that specifically gather and curate real-time information on potential hazards.

In FY2017, the Office of Electricity (OE) submitted an SBIR topic for the development of capabilities to assist the electric sector during or right after catastrophic events such as storms by using robotics and AI technology. Brains4Drones was awarded a grant to further develop their AI and machine vision capabilities for off-the-shelf drones. The Phase I work was a success and as a result in 2018, Brains4Drones was awarded a two-year Phase II grant to continue their work. The results of that Phase II as well as the integration of vegetation inspection capabilities led to a six-month Phase III award to further accelerate the technology by assisting utilities in wildfire high-risk territory.

To learn more about Brains4Drones visit their website:brains4drones.com/