Europe Sensors

Satellites and laser UAV working together – SHARPERSAT feasibility study completed with positive results


Sharper Shape Ltd and Finnish Geospatial Research Institute successfully completed a feasibility study under the European Space Agency (ESA) ARTES 20 IAP (Integrated Application Promotion) programme funding (link:

ESA’s IAP programme, in close partnership with end-users, is dedicated to the development, implementation and pilot operations of Integrated Applications leading to sustainable services.

The goal is to provide innovative added value to services by combining different space assets, such as Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, and Human Spaceflight technologies, and by integrating them with existing terrestrial assets.

The SHARPERSAT project represents an excellent example of the integrated applications combining Satellite Earth Observation and Global Navigation Satellite System with terrestrial technologies to create a new viable service and responding to user requirements better than existing legacy solutions.

The SHARPERSAT was focused on the assessment of combining Sharper Shape’s existing UAV based services with Satellite Earth Observation (SatEO) data. The UAVs are already customary used for power line inspections.

The opportunity with SatEO is to significantly reduce costs of maintenance inspections while providing more frequent data to enable faster reaction to changed risks. This has the potential to target the UAV flights more efficiently in areas where changes in risks or critical conditions have potentially occurred. In addition, the frequent and repetitive capture of satellite data can provide earlier warning of problems in comparison to customary often yearly line patrols.

The study was completed in close partnership with the leading European utilities. In the study, Fingrid Oyj (Finnish National Transmission Grid Operator), Elenia Oy (Finnish Distribution Operator), Caruna Oy (Finnish Distribution Operator), Hafslund Nett (Norwegian Distribution Operator) were directly involved in the consortium; in addition RTE (the French Transmission System Operator) and Elia (the Belgium Transmission System Operator) were engaged as reference users.

The requirements from all stakeholders were collected, leading to the definition of the novel modular service concept. The critical changes in the right of way of power lines can be detected and the information can be provided to the utilities. In addition the change detection allows for targeting the UAV flights to areas with highest probability of existing or future problems. The study further validated technical and commercial viability of the service. Sharper Shape proposed a demonstration project to prove the integrated solution with selected customers.

Besides Satellite Earth Observation and Global Navigation Satellite System, Sharper Shape will integrate the use of Satellite Data Communication, an additional space asset, to further improve the performances of the service. The initial pre-operational service capability is expected to be available to users from year 2016, and the full commercial rollout of the new service can begin during 2017.

About Sharper Shape

Sharper Shape ( is the world-leading supplier of UAV based asset management solutions for utilities. Sharper Shape provides fully automated inspection and maintenance planning services for infrastructure asset owners. Our Next Eagle® solution is the world’s first automatic asset inspection solution utilizing UAVs, which drastically reduces inspection and maintenance costs for high value assets such as power lines, pipelines, railways and more. We provide actionable plans for both the financial decision-makers to help with budgeting and resource allocation, and for engineering in planning and placing work orders for asset maintenance and vegetation management.

About Finnish Geospatial Research Institute:

The Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) is a research organization belonging to the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS). The NLS is a governmental organization under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry having approximately 2000 employees. The NLS is responsible of various land surveying tasks in Finland, from parcelling and reallocations of pieces of land to the maintenance of the national topographic database, which is the foundation of the digital maps in Finland. The FGI (formerly the Finnish Geodetic Institute) is a highly international research organization having the staff of about 100 people. The core task is to carry out scientific research in the field of geospatial technology and to transfer this knowledge into the society in all levels, including business. The FGI is one of the leading research establishments in geospatial information sciences and technologies in Europe, has a Centre of Excellence from Academy of Finland ( and has coordinated about ten international science projects during the past years.

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