February 22, 2024

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI) and Skydio partner to deliver an end-to-end solution for remotely monitoring and automating substation inspections

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Skydio X10 Substation inspection

As DistribuTech 2024 approaches, MEPPI and Skydio are thrilled to announce the integration of Power-I with Skydio’s autonomous drone solutions. Combining Power-I’s critical infrastructure monitoring system with the versatility and go-anywhere-any-time capabilities of Skydio drones will deliver the ultimate solution that enables the collection and analysis of electric utility substation data with superior efficiency, consistency, accuracy, and safety.

Bob Misback, MEPPI’s Vice President of Service noted “We are excited to work with Skydio. The unique capabilities of Skydio’s American made drones together with MEPPI’s Power-I analytics will enable utilities to economically collect, digitize, and analyze analog data from older substations to maintain and improve their performance and reliability as the stress on the electric grid increases.”

Skydio is proud to join forces with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI) in a groundbreaking partnership that promises to redefine the landscape of electric utility substation inspections and maintenance. This collaboration harnesses the exceptional capabilities of Skydio’s autonomous drone technology alongside MEPPI’s advanced Power-I system, creating a synergy that enables unparalleled efficiency, accuracy, and safety in the collection and analysis of critical infrastructure data.

Designed and developed in close collaboration with electric utilities, MEPPI’s Power-I platform combines state-of-the-art computer vision technology with advanced machine learning to collect visual and thermal data from critical infrastructure facilities, systems, and equipment. The Power-I platform automatically ingests visual data, detects components using AI created specifically for utility assets, digitizes detected components, creates operational baselines, detects anomalies, and reports on a wide range of events in real-time through customizable alerts. Real-world examples include reading gauges and operation counters on transformers and circuit breakers, verifying oil levels and insulator conditions, ensuring ground wires are intact, and detecting thermal hotspots among other capabilities.

The introduction of Skydio X10 into the MEPPI and Skydio partnership represents a significant leap forward in autonomous substation inspection capabilities. Skydio X10, with its superior onboard AI and visionary camera systems, elevates the standard for precision and versatility in drone technology. Its unparalleled autonomy engine, equipped with sophisticated AI, enables X10 to navigate and capture data in the most complex environments, day or night, with unmatched efficiency and safety. This integration means utilities can now access a broader spectrum of high-quality visual and thermal data, ensuring a more comprehensive analysis of substation assets and components. Skydio X10's adaptability and advanced sensor packages make it an indispensable tool for utilities aiming to enhance operational reliability and performance while addressing the increasing demands on the electric grid.

Historically, the Power-I solution supported cameras (fixed and pan tilt with both visible and infrared sensors) and state-of-the-art ground-based mobile robots to remotely monitor and autonomously patrol critical infrastructure sites and collect ground truth data. Integration with Skydio’s Drones and Docks now takes autonomous data collection to a whole new height, providing the ability to efficiently capture complete views of substation assets and components whether located on the ground or hundreds of feet in the air.

Skydio and Power-I Integration and Workflow

With streamlined integration between the Power-I platform and Skydio, utilities can fly an ad hoc flight with a Skydio drone, or take advantage of Skydio’s dock solution to execute a scheduled autonomous mission. Upon completion, captured imagery and thermal data upload to Skydio Cloud. Power-I then automatically pulls the data from Skydio Cloud, detects components in the imagery, and runs associated skills to transform the detected components visual condition into digital information. If any anomalies are identified, Power-I will generate alert cases and send a notification to relevant stakeholders. Data can also be sent to data historians or asset management systems.

"This partnership with MEPPI underscores Skydio’s commitment to transforming the way utilities approach substation inspections and maintenance. By integrating our advanced drones with MEPPI's Power-I system, we're not just elevating the efficiency and accuracy of data collection; we're setting a new standard for operational excellence in the utility industry. Our drone solutions, renowned for their autonomous capabilities and EMI resistance, complement Power-I's analytics to offer an unparalleled solution that promises to enhance the reliability and performance of our aging electric grid. Together, we're not just facing the challenges of increased grid stress; we're pioneering a future where utility inspections are safer, faster, and more reliable." -Christina Park, Sr. Director Energy Strategy

Skydio x Power-I

Empowered by Power-IQ

Power-I’s innovative Power-IQ engine harnesses over 40 years of MEPPI’s expertise in engineering, supplying, and servicing equipment and turnkey substation solutions to the electric utility industry. Leveraging this vast amount of knowledge, along with input from some of MEPPI’s largest electrical utility customers, has empowered the Power-IQ engine to provide best-in-class substation analytics.

Power-IQ detecting common components on high voltage electrical circuit breakers.
Power-IQ detecting common components on high voltage electrical circuit breakers.
Power-IQ detecting common components on high voltage electrical circuit breakers.
Power-IQ detecting common components on high voltage electrical circuit breakers.
Power-I platform
Reading of a temperature gauge in the Power-I platform.
 Reading of a circuit breaker counter Power-I platform.
Reading of a circuit breaker counter within the Power-I platform.

Why now?

Electrification of automobiles, rapid expansion of hyperscale data centers, and deployment of green distributed energy resources (DERs) requires that the power grid expand at an unprecedented rate, and new technologies will be needed to accommodate future electric load demand and electric interconnection. Coupled with aging infrastructure at the existing 55,000+ existing substations in the United States, supply chain shortages for parts and replacement equipment, and the forecasted loss of 25 percent of the utility workforce personnel over the next decade, the electric utility industry is facing unprecedented challenges and upcoming headwinds.

Skydio drones and MEPPI’s Power-I platform provide the ultimate solution that will enable utilities to collect and analyze volumes of data with superior efficiency, consistency and accuracy while being safer than ever before. This means utilities can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they are mitigating the risk of catastrophic failure for high-value assets, lowering O&M costs, and improving employee safety.

What’s ahead

Looking ahead, Skydio is excited about the transformative potential of strategic partnerships like the one we have with MEPPI. Our collaboration is more than just a merging of technologies; it represents a joint venture towards a future where the maintenance and inspection of utility infrastructures are not only more efficient but also significantly safer and more reliable. By integrating Skydio’s state-of-the-art autonomous drones with MEPPI’s Power-I analytics, we are not only addressing the immediate needs of today’s electric grid but also laying the groundwork for the advancements of tomorrow. Skydio remains steadfast in our dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible, ensuring that our partnerships continue to drive innovation, enhance operational excellence and safety, and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient utility sector.

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