Palo Alto-based Sharper Shape and Sterlite Power, a power transmission company in India, have announced a strategic partnership to provide drone inspection services for utility assets in India.
As part of the cooperation, Sterlite Power will make a minority investment into Sharper Shape to foster Indian market growth and continued technology development. This further cements the relationship between the two companies after the two signed a partnership agreement in February in the presence of the Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä in Mumbai during the Make in India week to deliver cutting-edge drone technologies for the power transmission industry.
Sterlite Power and Sharper Shape are currently awaiting approvals from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for large-scale, long-distance drone flights to inspect utility assets. Long-distance drone flights could provide significant benefits by enabling a safe, efficient and fast method of inspection.
“We are delighted to partner with Sharper Shape in bringing automated asset management to the Indian power transmission industry. Drones are transforming the way in which infrastructure is built and maintained. Sterlite Power is committed to solving the toughest challenges of energy delivery. We are proud to contribute towards India’s vision for a 24X7 power-for-all,” said Pratik Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Sterlite Power.
In addition to improving the reliability, resilience and safety of the Sterlite Power transmission lines, the partnership aims to provide services for other utilities in India. India has a power transmission network of more than a million circuit kilometers which is undergoing double-digit growth annually. The use of drones will increase the uptime of the grid, reduce transmission tariffs, avoid grid blackouts, and also save the environment by reducing deforestation along the line corridors.
Sharper Shape has already spearheaded the adoption of long-distance commercial drone flights for utilities in Europe. In the U.S., Sharper Shape is part of the EEI Sharper Utility partnership, an industry collaboration aimed at demonstrating and developing commercial long-distance drone flights for electric companies.
“We applaud Sterlite Power for pioneering drone-based asset inspections in India,” said Tero Heinonen, CEO of Sharper Shape. “And, we look forward to working with Sterlite Power to establish a framework for drone inspections in India that will provide safe, reliable energy for consumers.”
The partnership will bring yet another aerial technology to the Indian market. Sterlite Power has already introduced Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) for surveys and helicopters to avoid disturbances to farm activities and neighbours and speed up the process to commission much-needed infrastructure in India. Soon, it will deploy heli-cranes to erect transmission towers in the challenging terrains of Jammu and Kashmir.