Estonia drone startup raises funding to advance powerline inspection

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Hepta Airborne has raised €2 million in funding to advance its drone-based inspection and analysis offerings.

The investment round was led by energy innovation accelerator EIT InnoEnergy and venture capital provider SpeedUp Group, along with previous investors Contrarian Ventures, Expansion Capital, Thorgate Ventures and Markku Jääskelainen.

Hepta Airborne, established in 2017 and headquartered in Tartu, automates the analysis of powerlines by utilising drones, helicopters, satellites and big data analysis. The company offers a full service, from gathering the data to analysing it.

Hepta Airborne’s H19 drone has a flight duration ability of up to three hours, can carry heavy sensors and can fly in up to 20 m/s winds.

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All sensor data is delivered in a single artificial intelligence driven software environment named uBird, which can automatically detect defects in power lines and other infrastructure.

Hepta’s CEO Henri Klemmer claims that the company’s solutions increase the accuracy of defect detection by more than 33% compared to conventional methods and on occasion has reached 400% increased accuracy.

Moreover, the uBird software can turn more than 250 km of powerline data into actionable end-results in 5 minutes, whereas a single engineer could take 30 days to do the same manually.

Long term plans for the company include the creation of digital twins for a variety of infrastructures including powerlines and gas pipelines as well as telecommunications and other sectors.

“In 2021, we will include humidity, soil and weather information to our algorithms to simulate real-life conditions in the digital environment,” says Klemmer.

“We will predict future scenarios and potential accidents. Our journey will lead to the creation of digital twins in multiple industries – imagine a world where you obtain an instant assessment of the physical condition of every three-dimensional asset around you.”

Hepta anticipates that the funding also should enable it to grow its presence in other European countries.