Automated Drone System Deployed at a Power Plant – This is a First

You may have missed it but there was a very exciting first that happened in the world of autonomous drones used for security this week.  On Monday, May 21st, Italian electricity and gas giant Enel announced that its Torrevaldaliga Nord power plant deployed an innovative system that uses drones to support the operation, maintenance, and protection of the plant.  That’s right, an autonomous drone system deployed as part of a security system for a large thermal power plant in Civitavecchia, Italy.  That is pretty exciting stuff.

“Torrevaldaliga Nord is the first power plant in the world to use Convexum and Percepto systems, confirming Enel’s leading role in technological innovation. This cooperation generates positive impacts not only on the overall plant efficiency but also on our workers, who can now operate the most advanced technologies, acquiring new skills along the way,” said Nicola Rossi, Head of Innovation at Enel’s Global Thermal Generation. “The initiative is part of the wider digital transformation program that the Enel Group is carrying out and that also involves the generation assets owned and operated by the company.”

Percepto’s Sparrow Autonomous Drone

“Today we are seeing the concrete results of the cooperation between Enel and some of the most interesting start-ups at the international level. Enel supports entrepreneurship and technological research all over the world,” said Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel Innovation Hubs. “This cooperation makes it possible to circulate ideas and integrate them with the needs of our business.”

The start-up CONVEXUM has developed a system which can prevent unauthorized drones from flying over the plant.

The start-up PERCEPTO has developed a drone capable of performing automated flight missions using sensors and computer vision algorithms and providing support for plant inspection and surveillance activities. The drone is controlled from the plant’s operating room, where it is possible to have a complete real-time view of the entire area covered by flight operations. The drone uses sensors to collect large amounts of images that are analyzed in real time by using advanced video analysis algorithms.

When Brilliance Security Magazine met with Shirley Salzman, Percepto’s Marketing Director, earlier this year, she was confidently optimistic that a large-scale deployment of their drone system was imminent.  It looks like she was right on.

Watch the video below to see Percepto’s Sparrow drone in action at the power plant.

Percepto’s Sparrow is an industrial-grade, weather-proof drone capable of operating in heavy rain, snow and dust conditions.  When docked at its base, the Sparrow undergoes fast charging and performs automatic pre and post flight checks.  The Sparrow is equipped with a dual camera set that enables day and night (thermal) high-resolution recording capabilities. These capabilities ensure the Sparrow can provide 24/7 operations without payload switching.  PerceptoCore™ allows for real-time analytics and fully autonomous cycles including conducting takeoff, navigation, and landing.

Steven Bowcut CPP, PSP is the Editor-in-Chief for Brilliance Security Magazine.