PRENAV, a startup technology company, has announced that it is developing a precision drone system with centimetre-level accuracy for infrastructure inspection. The company has received $1.2 million in seed funding to develop the system.
The navigation capabilities of the PRENAV system are critical in commercial use cases like industrial inspection, where drones need to fly in close proximity to tall structures like cell towers and wind turbines. PRENAV is currently working with customers including wireless carriers, cell tower owners, service providers, and wind turbine operators. An early customer, Senvion, provides operation and maintenance services for nearly 1,000 wind turbines across North America.
“We are looking forward to integrating PRENAV’s technology into our day to day service cycle in order to increase our efficiency and provide our customers with less downtime,” said Hardy Steinacker, Head of Service, Americas for Senvion Canada Inc. “PRENAV’s automated system not only captures the imagery, but also processes and distributes it for further analysis to our technicians below. With cost saving opportunities, reduction in safety risks and additional turbine up-time, securing production and revenue for our owners, Senvion, is looking to extend its blade inspection program by utilizing PRENAV’s technology.”
PRENAV has developed a patent-pending navigation system that consists of a guidance robot on the ground and an aerial drone working in coordination to fly close to structures. The guidance robot first scans the environment, then once flight begins, it tracks and shares position updates with the drone, keeping it on course even when dealing with wind and other disturbances. The system is operated via an intuitive touchscreen interface and requires no manual piloting skills, which makes it accessible to climbers, technicians, and anyone who is inspecting or maintaining industrial assets.
“Our customers need high quality imagery and 3D reconstructions to make decisions about the assets they’re managing,” says Nathan Schuett, CEO of PRENAV. “The current generation of drones struggle when they need to fly close to structures due to limitations of GPS and collision avoidance sensors. As a result, infrastructure inspection is a very difficult task even for the most highly-trained pilots. Our technology automates the entire mission, ensuring that the right photos are taken every time, and that an accurate 3D reconstruction is built and delivered to our customers.”