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10 April, 2017 - 13:06 By Kate Sweeney

Smart drone solar monitoring company eyes fresh heights

Above Surveying solar farm drone

Above Surveying is collaborating with the University of Essex to take its smart drone to the next technological level in a quest to bring sophisticated, accurate and automated monitoring to Europe’s booming solar farms.

Colchester-based Above Surveying claims to be the UK’s leading aerial thermographic solar inspection specialist and a pioneer in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for solar farm monitoring.

It will work with Essex researchers to develop new technological solutions as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership supported by Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency.

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.

Above Surveying MD, Will Hitchcock said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Above Surveying. Demand for our services is increasing rapidly as the sector wakes up to the necessity of routine thermographic inspections 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.”

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