DJI released a new video today, providing a complete overview of a drone solar installation inspection in China. It’s pretty impressive.

Sustainable energy solutions like wind farms, tidal power generators, and solar installations are on the rise. And that, obviously, is a good thing. But solar installations require regular inspections, as sometimes panels crack or other components fail. Traditionally, such facilities have been manually inspected by a technician carrying a sensor.

Not these days.

Drone solar inspection

Drones have started to become the preferred tool for these inspections because they’re capable of covering large areas and detecting even tiny imperfections. Depending on the size of the facility, such inspections can sometimes be carried out in a single flight.

And that not only saves time but also saves workers from walking or riding small vehicles, sometimes over a period of days, to capture the same data. Some solar installations are also in rugged terrain or high on rooftops, which carries inherent risk for workers.

The three “D’s”

That stands for Dirty, Dull, and/or Dangerous. Those are the kinds of tasks perfectly suited for Enterprise drones. Think about it: Would you really want to traipse around in hot, dusty conditions for three days with a handheld sensor, scanning each and every solar panel? Thought not.

Thus, drones like the Matrice 300 RTK can be a perfect tool for jobs like this.

DJI’s M300 RTK, with the right sensor, is a tool that can perform such tasks…

From three months to five hours

The DJI video says that, in one instance, with a very large facility, using a drone brought about incredible efficiencies. Rather than one (we’re assuming) very bored person walking for three months, the inspection time was reduced to five hours of flying time. In the case of the video we’ll see in a second, the vehicle was the M300 RTK (Real-time Kinematic Sensor, for highly accurate geospatial accuracy) equipped with the Zenmuse H20T payload – which combines both optical and thermal sensors.

With a pre-programmed mission, the drone carries out the inspection on its own. The pilot simply monitors the progress and keeps the drone within Visual Line of Sight.

Software

Of course, you don’t want to sift through hundreds (or thousands) of photographs to find any anomalies. So DJI has partnered with Lifin Tech on an end-to-end solution. The software flags any defects so that the maintenance people (who still have to walk) can quickly locate and fix any bits requiring repair.

Anyway, enough background. The video does a great job of explaining the process, so here’s the DJI drone solar inspection:

DroneDJ’s take

Looks like a great solution for solar inspections. It sure beats all that walking.

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