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Drone/AI/MR Smart Maintenance Solution to Start in FY 2018
-- Combination of 3D visualization of drone-photographed images and AI-assisted defect analysis --

NTT COMWARE CORPORATION (Head office: Minato-ku, Tokyo, President: Satoshi Kurishima, hereinafter NTT COMWARE) has developed "Dropo®", an IT solution to integrate information required to use drones such as drone unit, the pilot and image data, and "KnowledgeMap® 4D" for intuitive visual inspection, diagnoses and recording in a digital environment by creating 3D models based on images taken by drones. The services are to improve the efficiency of maintenance and inspection of infrastructure such as telecommunication facilities and start at the end of FY2018.
In addition to this IT solution, "Deeptector®", the image recognition AI which is already available, and an MR (Mixed Reality)-assisted tool, "KnowledgeMap® xR (under development)", to implement and maintain drone flights and facilities, are combined to promote digital transformation of the NTT Group as well as to contribute to resolving various social issues in maintenance and management of infrastructure.

Maintenance cycle of infrastructure



Background

NTT Group has a huge telecommunication infrastructure such as steel towers, buildings, bridges, pipelines, utility poles, hanging lines, and tunnels. In recent years, it has become important to consider issues to upgrade the maintenance cycles and how to protect telecommunication infrastructure in a safe, secure and economically efficient way.
Diagnoses of the deterioration of infrastructure often depends on skilled technicians with many years of experience and know-how. Therefore, there were some issues to solve: how to pass on inspection and diagnosis skills and how to undertake dangerous work in high and enclosed environments. Such dangerous work should be minimized to secure the safety of workers.

NTT COMWARE is advancing the development of technologies and IT solutions to contribute to the digital transformation of the maintenance cycle of infrastructure including telecommunication, making full use of the latest technologies such as drones, AI and MR (Mixed Reality).

Summary of the Scheme

  • "Dropo®": A unified management solution of information required to apply or use drones including the drone itself, pilot and image data.
Based on the knowledge of NTT Group's facility inspection and maintenance, NTT COMWARE developed the portal system "Dropo®", which is useful for supporting drone operations and sharing its operation know-how. "Dropo®" supports incidental tasks to use drones for various projects such as management of drones, pilots, flights and image data management to conduct efficient operations of drones. "Dropo®" will be available in FY2018.

[Outline of Dropo®]

Outline of Dropo®





  • "KnowledgeMap® 4D": creating 3D data of a target from images taken by a drone for virtual inspection
"KnowledgeMap® 4D" is developed aiming to realize a simple visual inspection and diagnosis of a digital space based on information acquired such as photographs by drone navigation and sensor data.
The SfM (Structure from Motion) technology is to create 3D images from images taken from drones to intuitively grasp and manage the deterioration status of the target (patent applied).
The system has an annotation tool which can perform defect inspection, registration and reporting on the images to allow the user to grasp aging or deterioration of the target by organizing the images which have been taken at the same communication infrastructure in time series. Therefore, experts register the type and status of the defects such as rust and peeling and accumulate the results of inspection and diagnosis reflecting their knowhow.
This accumulated data is used to allow "Deeptector®", the image recognition AI, to learn from repeatedly as teacher data to detect and analyze defects automatically. Furthermore, the system is effective to maintain evaluation consistencies for the level and inspection to prevent things being overlooked. The trial version of "KnowledgeMap® 4D" will be available by the end of FY2018.

[Outline of KnowledgeMap® 4D]

Outline of KnowledgeMap® 4D





  • "KnowledgeMap® xR": MR-assisted drone flights and maintenance/inspection
NTT COMWARE develops applications to support drone flights and maintenance/inspection by utilizing MR technology as "KnowledgeMap® xR".
The drone flight support functions enable a safe and precise drone flight for the pilot to show the telemetry data, flight route, shooting position and images of the real space on a real time basis.
Furthermore, defect data managed by KnowledgeMap® 4D are displayed over the target for inspection in a real space thanks to the maintenance and inspection assistance function to prevent overlooking of things during inspection. The inspection procedure is also automatically displayed to ensure safe repair work.
"KnowledgeMap® xR" is currently under development for commercial use within FY2019.

[Outline of KnowledgeMap® xR]

Outline of KnowledgeMap® xR




[Reference: Dropo® Control Panel]

Reference: Dropo(R) Control Panel


Reference: Dropo(R) Control Panel



NTTCOMWARE will continue to develop IT solutions to solve social issues such as improvement of the maintenance efficiency of social infrastructure and further improvement of maintenance quality by passing on the know-how of senior experts.

* "Dropo®" and "KnowledgeMap®" are registered trademarks of NTT COMWARE CORPORATION.
* Other company names and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of each company.

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