Singapore-based company H3 Dynamics has collaborated with Brazil’s EPH Engineering to launch a turnkey inspection solution for hydropower dams.

The new solution combines artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled damage assessment and Hycopter fuel cell drones that can fly over three hours at a time.

EPH Engenharia director Carlos Eduardo Cavaco Gomes said: “Many accident reports show that problems were not detected by instrumentation but by visual observation. Drones can help, but due to the large dimensions of these structures we need much longer flight times.”

The new Hycopter drones, which have been designed in Austin, Texas, are capable of scanning six times more surface areas, facilitating faster inspections of large-scale dams.

Data gathered by the drone is transferred to an AI-assisted inspection platform called H3 Zoom.AI, which has been designed to accelerate the expert validation processes.

Gomes further added: “We can now improve the coverage area, agility, scalability, frequency and quality of visual dam inspections.”

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By GlobalData

The company noted that the hydrogen fuel cell drone is also equipped with a new data acquisition software that was tested at a Copel hydropower dam site located in Brazil.

With two recent collapse incidents that led to the death of more than 300 people and resulted in environmental damage, the Brazilian authorities have increased their focus on dam safety.

Some of the large dams require months of drone flights to fully scan their surfaces. H3 Dynamics is also planning to install DBX drone stations in the remote, off-grid environments in order to provide rescue assistance in case of disasters.

EPH Engineering specialises in hydropower design, dam inspections and safety plans.