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Drones, energy infrastructure and the future of data collection

  • Drones are becoming an increasingly common sight.
  • They are being used to inspect crucial energy infrastructure.

Drones are becoming an increasingly common sight in our skies. Today, they're piloted by a range of users, from amateur enthusiasts and the military to pizza delivery companies.

Drones are being utilized in the energy sector too. Sky Futures, for example, uses drones to carry out inspections on energy infrastructure.

"We work with large engineering firms that may work in renewables or oil and gas," James Harrison, its co-founder and CEO, told CNBC in an interview. "We enable them to fly drones to collect visual static and thermal data of those assets."

These businesses can then use software to extrapolate information from that data so that anomalies, cracks and defects can be identified. This, Harrison said, allowed customers to predict maintenance schedules so "they can be more efficient and run them better in the future."

Looking ahead, Harrison painted a picture of an increasingly interconnected world. "It's not just drones, it's your smartphone, it's your helmet cam — everyone is a data collection device," he said.

"Anyone who wears a hard hat for work in the future will, no doubt, have a small camera on which is continually inspecting their work site," he added.

Harrison said that such a camera may suddenly see a problem its wearer is about to walk into and alert them, telling them it's unsafe to proceed any further. "That's where… we're going now."

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