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Autonomous drones on the horizon?
September 13, 2019 News


In 2018, edotco Group partnered with Aerodyne Group to implement innovative drone technology in its business operations. Coupled with cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning processes, edotco harnessed Aerodyne’s aerial capabilities to boost efficiencies in daily operations. These includes infrastructure site audits, routine preventive maintenance surveys, network assessments and revenue assurance monitoring.

According to Ashok Muthu, Head Service Excellence Group Operations, the collaboration has garnered tremendous benefits for edotco across multiple areas including a 50% improvement in reporting time and a 35% reduction in inspection turnaround time resulting from faster data collation and report generation.

Basically, Aerodyne’s drones are used to monitor the telco towers throughout the county for defects and maintenance purposes as well. Previously, telco monitoring would involve using helicopters or cranes and require technical personnel to climb up the towers for inspection.

“The application of drones in this field has mitigated safety risks by removing the need for technicians to perform tower climbs to conduct manual equipment inspection.”

He added that edotco is also working with Aerodyne to generate more AI algorithms to recognize other defects on the telco towers, like rust. Eventually, they hope to reduce reporting timeline by half as automation will speed the processes.

Aerodyne is a Malaysian drone services provider company that aims to drive digital transformation with AI driven drones. They have presence in 25 countries and are ranked 3rd in the world for drone service providers.

Muhamed Kamarul, Group CEO and Founder of Aerodyne Group explained that 70% of their drone business in infrastructure monitoring for power grids and telco companies. Depending on the nature of the organisation, companies can look to cost saving between 5% to 20%.

Moving forward, Aerodyne is looking to innovate the drone industry with autonomous drone flights. With the amount of data generated, AI is able to analyse the data and eventually automate the processes.

“Our long-term vision is to have fully automated drones without human intervention. Using AI with Edge processing, the drones can fly by itself and zoom in on the problem. We’re still about three to four years away from this. But for now, regulations all over the world don’t allow drones to fly without pilots.”

Kamarul added that they are having conversations with regulatory bodies on these but declined to elaborate further for now.

Aerodyne and edotco are also in the pilot phases of a program called “Cellular on Wings” (COW). COW is the use of drones to establish communications in remote and unreachable areas especially in times of crisis. Ashok said that both companies with another partner are looking into developing this but for now they are still in the testing stages.

“During natural disasters and emergencies, communication is vital. And in most times, communications fail during such events. In future, we plan to install telecom equipment on drones to reestablish communications. The drones will be able to hover to provide communication needs. We are still in early trial stages for this.”

Kamarul added, “the technology will work in remote areas. We are using Tether drones that can last for a couple days as they are powered from the ground. This solution can also be deployed in stadiums and crowded areas to boost telco signals.”

Looking at the drone industry, while many drone companies are struggling to innovate, Aerodyne continues to lead in its innovation and solutions. They have already acquired some smaller drone companies and are in the midst of completing a huge drone company acquisition as well.

With the significant impact in various verticals being worked on, Kamarul believes Aerodyne can develop specific solutions for the telco industry. And the biggest value from this is to ensure communication is always available.