Joe Sullivan, CEO – Aerial Applications
Software platforms are taking drones from individual pieces of hardware to full systems that companies can use to do their job better, instantly collaborate with teammates across the world and save lives – but more than anything they are saving companies a lot of money. These platforms have been evolving over the past several years to become much more specialized and implementing new real-time collaboration business workflows. As a result of these capabilities, we have a front-row seat to the 4th Industrial Revolution that’s currently underway.
One of these specializations is around industrial inspections specific to the very hazardous inspection/repair of cell towers and wind turbines. Cell tower technicians often climb towers as high as 2000 feet, just to make sure our Android or iPhones have four bars.
Recently a tower tech was inspecting a 600-foot tower and had to make a rapid decent after reaching half way. His colleague radioed him to let him know that the anchor for his safety line was badly damaged. At the time of the climb, the tech didn’t see the repair ticket as it was hidden under many others in their online system. Easy and real-time data sharing is one of the most important parts of any inspection system – it literally saves lives.
This real-world example can be duplicated over and over among many industries, and companies like Aerial Applications, a new drone management platform from Austin, TX are solving these problems for tower techs and other that put their life on the line every day.
The real power in the Aerial Applications platform is their ability to pull data together on an asset basis in real-time and in a virtual environment compared to older style of sharing data in folders within an app. Aerial Applications provides a map-based system where all the data specific to a cell tower or wind turbine is immediately updated to that location on the platform, meaning everything from repair information, environmental data, 3D renderings, etc…are all immediately available for each asset by simply clicking on a tower or wind turbine within the map section of the platform.
So going back to our tower technician, he would have been able to immediately see the repair mark for the safety anchor and the tower would have been highlighted in red on the map, again marking a problem with that tower. Instant and automatic sharing of data is one of the most important aspects to saving lives in these situations and it cannot be done if techs need to search through files and folders to determine the latest information on each asset.
And so here we stand, as constituent players in what is the 4th Industrial Revolution. It’s the revolution of the autonomous machine, AI, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, and so much more. And while it might seem like just the beginning, the truth is that we’re moving so fast, we have to have a clear eye on the future. As we’re changing people’s perspectives on drones as necessary tools instead of drones as robotic overlords, we’re also looking at new opportunities to make these technologies serve the public and private sectors even better.
New specialized platforms like Aerial Applications are an important interface for this revolution – as the software command/control/data management experience where users interact with their sensors, digital agents, and human coworkers in the field.
It’s about bringing technology to bear in support of the most critical assets that define modern society. It’s about finding the meaningful human work in a robot-powered future. And from the perspective of the lives that it impacts, in a storm, on a tower, in a blizzard, and beyond, it’s a deeply human, deeply hopeful story.