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Sistema de inspección de campos fotovoltaicos basado en drones aéreos


Oferta Tecnológica
Una pyme italiana ha desarrollado un sistema basado en drones que utiliza datos térmicos para inspeccionar campos fotovoltaicos y detectar fallos en los componentes de las plantas fotovoltaicas. Sus características más importantes son la gerreferenciación de datos en tiempo real y la interfaz tipo asistente que guía al usuario a los informes finales. El sistema permite realizar inspecciones térmicas cualitativas rápidas y precisas y ahorrar más tiempo y dinero que los métodos convencionales. La empresa busca socios con el fin de establecer acuerdos comerciales con asistencia técnica.


Aerial drones based photovoltaic fields inspection system
An Italian SME developed a drone based system using thermal data to inspect PV fields, detecting malfunctioning in plants elements. Key features: real time data georeferencing, wizard-like interface guiding user to final reports. System allows quick and accurate qualitative thermal inspections, time and cost savings compared with traditional methods. Same technology can be applied wherever a thermal georeferenced imagery is needed. A commercial agreement with technical assistance is sought.
An Italian SME has focused its activity on the development of smart systems to inspect energy infrastructures, with particular attention on PV plants. These systems include both HW and SW components.
Company personnel has a long experience as drone service operators and, starting from 2009, have explored various drones´ application fields, including High Voltage (HV) powerlines and energy infrastructures inspection. This experience has been translated in coded procedures, software applications and hardware devices. The company presented in 2014 the first system dedicated to the photovoltaic plants inspection and has completely sold a pre-series of 10 units. Starting from autumn 2016 a second release has been put on the market.
Photovoltaic plant inspection is one of the readiest light drones´ application fields. Drones can easily fly over the plant rows and collect thermal and visible imagery to document the state of the plants, detecting malfunctioning and failures.
Inspections are mainly based on hot spots detection. In fact, Photo Voltaic plant elements (cells, modules and arrays) when not working properly tend to overheat and can be detected as hot spots with a thermal camera.
Thermal observation can be complemented using a camera operating in the visible range (e.g. highlighting glass cracks and bird droppings).
As Photo Voltaic plants are monotonous landscapes, data georeferencing is a relevant feature. Without efficient spatial referencing methods, it will be difficult (if not impossible) locate the element carrying the hot spot.
The system here presented is composed by an airborne segment (2-channel device, gimbal and Electronic Control Unit ECU) and by a ground segment (Ground Control Station - GCS and a software application).
The system has been designed to be used with any model of rotary wings drone able to carry a weight of about 600 g. Further requisite is onboard energy availability, as the payload must be powered by the drone batteries.
The system operates as follows: the device acquires videos in the Thermal Infrared (TIR) and in the Visible (VIS) spectrum ranges. The ECU governs the videos recording on board (along with selected metadata) and transmits everything to the GCS linked to a laptop. The software governs the acquisition tasks, georeferences/shows in real time video previews, draws images/videoframes footprints on a plant map and assists the user in data processing, up to the generation of a Final Inspection Report.
The system´s key features and advantages are:
- Clear result: final inspection report
- faster than traditional inspection methods
- more accurate than other drone inspection modes
- the whole process (from data collection to report generation) is faster than other drone inspection modes
- direct data georeferencing based upon 8 live calculated points (not simple geotag) and terrain shape
- complete user manual
- tools for survey design

Currently the market offers a number of devices for thermal Photo Voltaic inspection. The most part of these systems are based on a light thermal core (a sort of naked thermal camera that can be easily integrated in a more complex device with resolution up to 640x512 pixel) that can be used and controlled as part of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System. Few of these systems offer a second channel (in the visible range) and the ability to georeference with geotag (a coordinate couple) thermal images. None of these systems is equipped with an inspection software.
The company needs industrial partners in the field of energy and aerospace for a commercial agreement with technical assistance. They would like to increase, with the support of the sought partners, the commercial activity in European countries, exploiting their national markets and contacts.
Advantages and Innovations:
(i) field inspections are faster than traditional inspection methods
(ii) result achievement is faster than other drone based inspection methods
The software is based on a GIS (Geographic Information System) engine. All data are natively spatialized.

Data spatialization method (direct georeferencing) is based on live application of photogrammetric equations, taking into account terrain models. This method generates image footprints calculated using 8 points (4 image vertex and 4 midpoints). The result is more accurate than methods based on geotag.

Intuitive and clear software interface guides the user from data acquisition to data analysis, up to the generation of a final report.
The workflow result is a well-organized inspection report which lists and describes all the problems detected and locate them on a plant map.

The system can be used with any rotary wings drone and is completely independent from the drone subsystems (e.g. positioning, TX/RX, etc.)

(i) survey design (calculate footprint size, calculate correct drone position to avoid sun reflections within the images)
(ii) easily and quickly draw vector georeferenced geodatabases of Photo Voltaic - PV plants
Stage of Development:
Already on the market
Design Rights
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
Community design registered

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
Type of partner: industrial partner in the energy or aerospace field for a commercial agreement with technical assistance.
The sought partner will receive assistance on the proposed system and will offer its support for developing the market in its country thanks to a reliable network of contacts.


Type and Size of Client:
Industry SME <= 10
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
02011001 Aeronautical technology / Avionics
09001010 Ensayos de material térmico
01003012 Imaging, Image Processing, Pattern Recognition