eSmart Systems, Xcel Energy, and EDM International Announce the Successful Completion of Phase One of Xcel Energy’s Transmission Grid Virtual Inspection Project

The first phase, launched in December 2019, was successful in deploying Collaborative Intelligence to inspect and document 2,897 miles of Xcel Energy’s transmission assets and finished ahead of schedule in March. The multi-year initiative will be expanded into Phase Two to continue to update asset records, reduce operational costs, decrease failure rates, and extend asset life.

eSmart Systems, Xcel Energy, and EDM International announce the completion of the first phase of a strategic initiative to enhance the aerial inspection of Xcel's transmission system. The foundation of this solution is Collaborative Intelligence, which combines human intelligence with Grid Vision™, an AI-based analytics solution from eSmart. The first phase, launched in December 2019, was successful in deploying Collaborative Intelligence to inspect and document 2,897 miles of Xcel Energy's transmission assets and finished ahead of schedule in March. The multi-year initiative will be expanded into Phase Two to continue to update asset records, reduce operational costs, decrease failure rates, and extend asset life.


"Xcel Energy's work on unmanned aircraft systems with our partners demonstrates that collaboration benefits customers, the economy and the environment," said Michael Lamb, senior vice president, transmission for Xcel Energy. "Our company is an industry leader in using UAS technologies for transmission line inspections and our work with eSmart Systems and EDM will help improve the safety and reliability of the energy grid."

Phase Two launched in May 2020

Phase Two builds on the success of Phase One, with an additional 5,000 miles of Xcel Energy's transmission system to be inspected by the end of 2020. As in Phase One, transmission asset imagery will be collected by Xcel Energy's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and manned helicopters. Phase Two will further improve the inspection processes by enhancing the Collaborative Intelligence approach with a deeper integration of eSmart's Grid Vision™, an AI-based analytics system, into their existing business processes. eSmart and EDM are leveraging the Phase One image data to improve the efficacy of Grid Vision™ by eSmart, making the asset component identification and defect detection more efficient and effective.

"eSmart Systems is pleased to partner with EDM to bring its Collaborative Intelligence approach to help Xcel Energy use aerial image data. We see this project as helping utilities to practically bridge the gap in the transition from today's largely manual processes to the world that leverages digital technology such as AI and UAS images for grid inspection and asset management," says Knut H. H. Johansen, CEO and founder of eSmart Systems.

"Phase One was a tremendous success for the partnership of Xcel Energy, EDM, and eSmart. We are now in the process of applying those results to enhance our large-scale transmission inspection capabilities. The problems we're solving for Xcel Energy, including a full inventory of grid assets and updating their inventory system, as well as accelerating the identification of defects, will help utilities more efficiently and safely operate their critical infrastructure," adds Steve Hambric, President of North America at eSmart Systems.

Collaborative Intelligence

The Collaborative Intelligence approach combines human intelligence from EDM's T&D Subject Matter Experts with Grid Vision™, an AI-based analytics system by eSmart. Together they analyze aerial images captured by Unmanned Aircraft Systems and manned helicopters. This project is seen as a key linchpin transitioning from today's manual grid inspection practices to a process that uses the optimal combination of humans, AI, and aerial images. These synergies result in more efficiently inspected grid systems, reduced failure rates, and extended asset life.

About the Companies

eSmart Systems

eSmart Systems is a developer of disruptive intelligent analytics targeting utility and energy markets. eSmart Systems, headquartered in Norway, has 80 employees including sales representatives in Denmark, UK, and in the US. The company was established in 2013, has commercial revenues from large and established utilities and transmission & distribution grid operators. Key owners are Kongsberg Digital, Energy Impact Partners, Equinor Energy Ventures, Nysnø Climate Investments, Innogy Ventures, and several Norwegian utilities.

For more information, visit esmartsystems.com.

Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

EDM International

EDM is an employee-owned alliance of engineers, scientists, technologists, and businesspeople providing innovative services and products to the utility industry since 1982. The company has become a leader in utility engineering, operations, and asset management by merging excellence in technical disciplines with a genuine concern for client needs. EDM is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has offices in San Diego, California, and Billings, Montana, and staff in other locations in North America.

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