Special

NTT West Subsidiary Finds Burning Junction Box by Drone-based Inspection (1)

AI used to improve analysis efficiency

2019/09/16 16:19
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
Print Page

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp (NTT West) established "Japan Infra Waymark KK," a new company that inspects infrastructures using drones (unmanned compact aircraft), in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, and started the operation in April 2019. The capital of the company is 400 million yen (approx US$3.71 million) and was fully financed by NTT West.

The new company offers a series of services from planning and consulting on infrastructure inspections to aerial shooting by drones, diagnosis using artificial intelligence (AI) based on inspection results and preparation of reports. The company is also engaged in the sale, rental and maintenance of drones, as well as education/training and insurance brokerage.

The company handles inspection of various structures including solar panels, windmills, transmission lines, telecommunication towers, bridges and slopes. It aims to digitalize the inspections, starting from the use of drones for inspection of general social infrastructure, and, as "Waymark" in the company name suggests, aspires to become the waymark of domestic infrastructure inspections.

The company uses drones manufactured by Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd of Chiba City for the services it offers (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1: Drones manufactured by a Japanese company used to ensure reliability and information protection (source: Japan Infra Waymark)

The company placed priority on the performance and reliability required for inspections conforming to the in-house standard, information protection and security in introducing the drones. In drone operations, software is updated to improve the control performance, and the data is frequently transmitted and received between drones and the manufacturer, like general IT systems. The company emphasizes its policy to minimize the risk of outflow of information on social infrastructures in Japan to foreign countries via drones used for inspections.

Japan Infra Waymark also offers drones that function in the environment where radio waves from GPS (global positioning system) satellites cannot be received, assuming their use under bridges, and so forth.