Drones and robotics in T&D – a $13.2 billion market

A new report examines the use of drones and robotics for electric transmission and distribution (DRTD) operations. Navigant Research forecasts the total market for all DRTD segments is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2026.

According to Navigant, drones and robotics technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way utilities interact with their transmission and distribution (T&D) assets and collect critical data.

As pilot programmes continue to drive regulatory change, and as emerging technologies advance, exponential growth in the hardware, software, and services segments of the DRTD market is forecast.

“Navigant Research has identified three core drivers for change in utility operations: speed, savings, and safety,” says Michael Hartnack, research analyst with Navigant Research.

“Robotics technology has the potential to deliver significant gains in all three of these areas, primarily via ground-based, line-suspended, and aerial (drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) innovations.”

To overcome regulatory barriers, utilities must continue to deploy pilot programmes demonstrating the benefits of these technologies. the report finds, saying that every successful pilot programme leads to the creation of many more. The prevalence of these programmes is expected to help to overcome the regulatory barriers slowing the market and eventually drive significant growth.

ABB, Cisco and Shell Technology invest in drones

This follows an announcement by Kespry, an aerial intelligence solution provider, which earlier this week announced it has raised $33 million in its Series C round of funding. G2VP with Shell Technology Ventures, Cisco Investments, and ABB Ventures have all joined as new investors in the company.

“Kespry is unique in providing a fully-integrated solution and is leading the use of a drone platform to deliver previously-unavailable benefits to industrial organizations,” said David Mount, a partner at G2VP.

“As evidenced by the enthusiasm of its customers, Kespry is helping define the shift to industrial digitization and we are excited to be a part of that movement.”

“We’ve identified and applied cutting-edge digital technologies in the energy sector for decades, and our investment in Kespry epitomizes that focus,” said Daniel Jeavons, general manager, advanced analytics at Shell.

“Industrial drones combined with AI and Machine Learning will make industrial work more efficient and safer. For instance, Kespry drones can help us optimize how we load cargo on to vessels or run inventory analysis in our lay down yards. These technologies give my colleagues powerful new digital tools and important, future-focused skills.”