Critical infrastructure requires inspections that are often dull, dirty, and dangerous. Drones are ideal tools to improve safety, however, drones have yet to significantly impact these inspection markets due to the high level of skill required to pilot such collision prone flights. To alleviate this problem, SkySpecs has created Guardian, which provides tools to simplify piloting a drone. By automating the complexities of flight, Guardian allows pilots to focus on the mission objectives instead of flight safety. The seamless co-pilot takes over flight control when an obstacle is nearby or collision is imminent. Once the risk is averted, Guardian returns control to the human operator. Sophisticated collision avoidance systems are particularly valuable for applications in wind turbine, utility, and other infrastructure operation and maintenance.
NextEnergy recognized the innovative characteristics of SkySpecs’ technologies and helped the company form strategic partnerships with customers in the wind and utility industries. NextEnergy mentored SkySpecs by exploring technology applications, and facilitating opportunities for the company to work alongside members of congress to navigate the regulatory framework for unmanned aerial vehicles. Through this critical, strategic mentorship, NextEnergy helped SkySpecs enter into the company’s first contract with UpWind Solutions. Additionally, NextEnergy’s business consulting services helped SkySpecs win the $500,000 first place prize at the 2014 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.