Hitachi has launched a drone platform solution expanding their existing infrastructure inspection services portfolio with an AI-assisted, drone-based service.
Over the last years, the societal impact of drone technology is steadily increasing and it is expected that the use of drone technology will improve business efficiency in many fields.
Today, professional drone applications mainly target logistics, infrastructure inspection, surveying, agriculture, disaster response and spatial information data management. Moving from pilot controlled flights to automated drone flights Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is key to realizing the full potential of these drone applications. To that end, Hitachi provides a drone flight management system and drone maintenance services to support safe and secure autonomous drone flights.
In August 2018, Hitachi was awarded the contract for the development of the “Fukushima Robot Test Field” drone flight management system. The “Fukushima Robot Test Field” is the only test centre with a drone operations management function at the Japanese large-scale demonstration laboratory. The goal of the test centre is to further advance BVLOS drone flights.
Unifly and Terra Drone provide the technical UTM backbone to ensure safe BVLOS drone flights at the test center. After registration the drones are monitored and tracked in real-time informing the authorities continuously on drone flight activities and flight compliance.
Hitachi established a drone service review organisation in 2015. This organisation promotes research and development activities on the core technologies, services and operational methods necessary for the social implementation of drone services through advanced demonstration experiments with customers in a wide range of industries. Simultaneously, on basis of the experience gained, Hitachi is expanding the portfolio of services that use AI to process and analyse the data collected by drones.
In infrastructure monitoring, AI and historical data is used to select the locations with the highest potential for materials deterioration. AI-assisted image processing is used to automatically detect materials deterioration and contamination highlighting locations requiring more detailed inspection.
To maximise the efficiency of drone missions, careful selection of drone type, imaging equipment, operational procedures and equipment maintenance is essential. Hitachi Group goes beyond simply delivering a drone: its drone services are tailored to provide all elements necessary to ensure the customer’s drone mission success.
Hitachi Group’s drone-based solutions are cloud-based and incorporate the following three concepts: “safe and secure autonomous flight”, “one-stop solution” and “cooperative creative innovation”. Innovative technologies such as AI, IoT, robots and big data are combined to support economic development and to solve social problems. Hitachi Group is fully committed to provide solutions for making the rich, human-centered Society 5.0 vision of a “super smart society” a reality. Society 5.0 is the Japanese government’s vision of the new society following the hunting, agricultural, industrial and information society. This vision aims to tackle several challenges by going far beyond just the digitalization of the economy towards the digitalization across all levels of society and the digital transformation of society itself.
In addition to this Hitachi Group actively contributes to the development of the necessary legal and standardisation frameworks by providing policy advise through the Japan Unmanned Operation Management Consortium (JUTM), by researching the next-generation unmanned aerial vehicles at the University of Tokio and by participating in the ISO’s international standardisation activities.