Innovation in the Energy Sector

Raffaello D’Andreas is Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, an organization that is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world. His research redefines what autonomous systems are capable of, in particular his work on UAVs has been fascinating and inspiring for developers and entrepreneurs worldwide. He famously participated in a TED talk where he is quoted saying: “My work is focused on the creation of systems that leverage technological innovations, scientific principles, advanced mathematics, algorithms, and the art of design in unprecedented ways, with an emphasis on advanced motion control. By their very nature, these creations require a team to realize. Many are enabled by the research I conduct with my graduate students. Many are also the fruit of collaborations with architects, entrepreneurs, and artists. My hope is that these creations inspire us to rethink what role technology should have in shaping our future.”


His words resonate with a lot people, whether they are entrepreneurs, researchers or established companies. UAVs are the most revolutionizing technology of the decade and with relentless research it is destined to change our lives forever and make an impact in just about any industry. DJI has been the frontrunner in designing and developing new UAV technology for industrial use. Although strategic collaborations, new products and offerings have been launched to facilitate operations in several industry verticals, It will become clear within the next few years which industries will be impacted most. However, DJI has little doubt that the energy industry will experience tremendous change as UAV technology is widely adopted.

Already there are many companies using UAVs to conduct inspections of their solar panel fields, power lines, tower structures or wind turbines.

Consider that for wind turbines alone there are over 300.000 units installed globally. The blades on turbines are industrial assets that wear out over time and therefore need to be inspected annually. This accounts for almost one million blades that need to be checked each year. In the past this was done through a complicated procedure with personnel rappelling from the blades and inspecting everything from up close. This entire procedure has now been replaced by drones and intervention and repairs will only be done if there is actual damage. The cost reduction is huge and the unnecessary working at heights is cancelled, which makes it a much safer operation.


Another major area for the energy sector is in oil & gas, an industry that is notorious for adapting new technologies at a snails’ pace, especially potentially high risk technologies. With the oil & gas industry struggling through one of the biggest downturns since the 1990’s, UAVs might provide a solution to cut costs and facilitate operations. As with wind turbines, UAV inspections are a lot faster and more affordable, especially since companies such as Sky-Futures have done an excellent job combining software and services with UAVs for the oil & gas industry.

Potentially, an even bigger impact will be the fleet monitoring and ortho-mapping of job sites. Its perfectly feasible for drones to provide continuous updates using RFID and specialized software that can monitor resources deployed on the project. This will assist project managers in creating an optimal planning on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Considering the cost and increased difficulty of extracting oil & gas, the industry is already embracing drone technology for its benefits.

DJI Enterprise has started to become the standard across the energy sector and DJI Enterprise will continue supporting innovators, companies & universities that are dedicated to improving personal lives and professional services.

Learn more about how DJI Enterprise drones are being used in the Energy sector.

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