Article first published on March 14st, 2019.
French start-up, Sterblue, is officially open for business in the United States and has big plans to re-invent the world of energy infrastructure inspections in the U.S., starting in California. Sterblue has developed a software for drones to inspect power grids and wind turbines automatically.
Over the past four years, Sterblue’s co-founder and CEO Geoffrey Vancassel (formerly an aerospace engineer with Airbus) has worked diligently with COO Nicolas Draber, CTO Vincent Lecrubier, and the rest of the Sterblue team to develop the cloud-based software and gain a strong presence in Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa. To date, Sterblue has executed inspections for nine utilities (including Innogy SE Group, EDP, Elia, and Enedis) in eight different countries and is already realizing the need for the improvement in the marketplace.
“The momentum we have gained in Europe and other countries has been great to prepare us for entering the United States”, explains Geoffrey Vancassel.
The Sterblue platform uses a combination between a complex 3D flight planning software and artificial intelligence algorithm to execute on its two-fold value add proposition.
First, the 3D flight planning software allows off-the-shelf drones (for example, DJI) to autonomously fly above, and around power lines, covering 100% of the asset. This is a massive upgrade from traditional inspection methods, such as helicopters or humans on foot.
Once these photos have been uploaded into the Sterblue cloud, the company’s proprietary artificial intelligence software will label issues such as corrosion, bent bars, leading edge erosion or any other physical issues existing on power grids and wind turbines throughout the world. The AI software will become more sophisticated over time, as more use cases come through the platform.“ The ability for our software to effectively and efficiently label these inspection photos will save thousands of man hours for our partners over time”, explains Geoffrey Vancassel.
Not only is the Sterblue software more efficient, accurate, and safer than using helicopters or humans, it is ultimately much cheaper as well.
With the recent wildfire issues in California and the states massive electrical infrastructure, Sterblue has chosen to focus its effort in the west for the time being. “We are absolutely interested in working with utilities outside of California, but have more than enough opportunity with SDG&E, SCE, and PG&E to keep us busy and focus our efforts for the first part of 2019. We now have an operation and sales team based in Los Angeles supported by our tech team in Europe”, says Geoffrey Vancassel.
Although Sterblue has yet to launch its first project in the United States, it is only a matter of time before U.S. utilities begin to notice the positive impact on their bottom line, and their overall inspection efficiencies moving forward.
Sterblue builds software that helps drones to inspect wind turbines and power grids automatically. Sterblue is currently working with nine major utility companies in eight different countries. Sterblue software guides drones along trajectories that wrap tightly around structures, finds anomalies from the collected images and outputs reports. The whole process is automated and triggered by the click of a button using off-the-shelf drones, doubling productivity as compared to manual solutions, while improving reliability. Sterblue was created in 2016 by three aerospace engineers and is based in Nantes (France), Los Angeles (US) and Lisbon (PT)