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SkySpecs, an automated infrastructure inspection company, has announced an $8 million Series B financing in drone technology, led by Statkraft Ventures together with UL Ventures and Capital Midwest with follow-on investments from Venture Investors, Huron River Ventures and additional existing investors.

The investment will be used "to scale the company's international operations and develop inspection software to enable customers to make more information-rich decisions about the condition of their energy assets and infrastructure," according to a company release.

The company combines its expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine-based analytics to develop advanced renewable infrastructure inspection technology. The company's guiding mission is to play a critical role in the smart grid evolution by helping to make renewable energy more accessible and attainable.

The automated drone technology currently solves one of the top challenges that industrial asset owners and service providers face: making timely, data-driven business decisions that ultimately affect the bottom line.  The company believes this investment represents an opportunity to capitalise on that momentum.

Fifteen-minute drone inspections that require only the push of a button - and no additional human oversight - make a previously laborious and time-consuming task simple and keeps active maintenance and waiting time to a minimum.

"This year we will enable owners to harness the power of the data collected by our automated drones in a platform that they can use to decide what to repair and when to repair it," said Danny Ellis, CEO at SkySpecs.

Last year SkySpecs launched the only fully-automated wind turbine blade drone inspection solution on the market, completing a record-breaking 3,600 turbine inspections at over 70 unique wind farms in the US and Europe. They also accomplished the technologically complex task of conducting offshore automated blade inspections without the need for human operation.

"We consider automation and standardisation of O&M-related tasks the next big challenge in cost competition after hardware costs for renewable energy assets have dropped significantly over the last years. SkySpecs is the fastest growing inspection company in the wind sector, making rotor blade inspections more precise and safe while keeping operations at a lower cost compared to traditional methods. Their technological expertise combined with scalable operations is the key to grow the business worldwide," says Alexander Kueppers, investment manager at Statkraft Ventures.

Says Simin Zhou, managing director of UL Ventures: "Using the automation of drones with the analytical power of machine learning provides efficiencies to the process and less downtime, which benefits owners and operators."

Also read: National Grid employs drones to monitor HV networks