Stadtwerke Mainz to automate hotspot detection of solar plants


Perhaps an industry-first for automated UAS hotspot detection, Stadtwerke Mainz, a large German municipal utility company, successfully completed initial UAS missions to identify hotspots in their solar power plants. A service-drone G4 hexacopter equipped with the new optris P1 LightWeight radiometric thermal infrared camera, GPS, and a modified GoPro for visual RGB live video transmission autonomously followed a pre-programmed and repeatable flight path — flying sideways in order for the vibration-free 2-axis brushless gimbal to constantly keep the sensors perpendicular to the photovoltaic panels for maximum efficiency.

Post flight, software automatically identified GPS locations where the temperature of PV cells exceeded a pre-set level. Since each high resolution image is geo-tagged and contains full radiometric information (absolute temperature +/- 2˚C or 2%), problem spots can programmatically be identified without the need for a human to watch a lengthy video stream — faster, cheaper, and at higher quality of detection.

Besides hotspot detection in solar panels (power plants or residential roof top installations), this technology can also be used for building inspections, wild fires, wind turbines, T&D masts, electric substations, and many other industrial applications.

Besides thermographic operations, the exact same UAS can be used for photogrammetry, multi-spectral or photographic applications by simply switching the gimbal for one with a different, optimally balanced application-specific payload. This can easily be done in the field via a quick attach/detach mechanism and plug-and-play cabling.

For more information, please visit bizUAS, service-drone distributor for the Americas, or email [email protected] with your specific questions or application requirements.