Sydney-based end-to-end telco infrastructure services provider CPS Technology and Infrastructure has partnered with Deutsche Telekom-backed autonomous drone and digitisation software company vHive to bring its digital twin solutions to the Australian market.
The Israeli company already with global customers including Deutsche Telekom – which subsequently invested – and Verizon and has generated tens of thousands of digital twins in the past year across the telecommunication, construction and crane industries
vHive CEO and co-founder Yariv Geller told CommsDay the recent creation of towerco companies in Australia has made a more dynamic ecosystem where it’s not just one company managing its own assets. “And tools like digital twins are very helpful in terms of managing across the interfaces of this new ecosystem,” he said. “So we’ve seen tremendous interest in digital twins in Australia, both from the newly formed towercos but also on the MNO side.”
Uniquely, vHive enables users, who are not skilled drone pilots, to use swarms of low-cost, off-the-shelf drones as tools thanks to extensive developments in autonomous data capture. Users can deploy multiple drones that collaborate in performing the same task. The advantage of off-the-shelf small drones is that the licensing is straightforward and they come with firmware to stop them flying into restricted spaces.
vHive takes the data and creates a photorealistic 3D copy of digitised sites, such as cell towers, cranes, and structures. vHive then uses AI and computer vision algorithms to understand different features and components of interest to its customers, such as equipment found or faults, and highlight them to the user.
“Drones have become a very effective tool to enable them to collect data from the field instead of sending people to go out, climb on things, measure, try to snap photos with their phone,” said Geller. “Keep people on the ground where it’s safe and send drones to do that collection work and get that task done. If you’re relying on the expert pilot to be able to control the drone, then things do not scale up as well. It means that you need to have highly trained people who can manually do a task with a drone.”
“Our goal is that a field technician or a layman really can go out and utilise a drone to capture data,” he added. “You can actually have an online digital portfolio of all of the sites that the company is managing. And you can ask all the questions that you’d like, visualise, simulate and do all these things on a computer in the office, rather than sending out people and doing otherwise complex tasks.”
“We can equip a lot of our teams with the capability to capture that information for digital twins, rather than having specialist people going around,” CPS Technology and Infrastructure new markers director David Williams told CommsDay.
3D REALITY MODEL:
Geller said customers liked the wealth of drone data generated but quickly wanted the tools to analyse it. vHive developed a 3D reality model which helps users visualise their sites but added AI capabilities to detect the different com-ponents. “We identify all of the different pieces of equipment that are installed in the tower and whether they are panel antennas, amplifiers, diplexers, microwave dishes, and so on,” he said. “Now we can then understand okay, so this tower has on itϐivepanel antennas and here are their dimensions and the orientation, the microwave dishes and their dimensions and orientation and this understanding helps us under-stand things like wind loading…in any direction and the torque [and loading] on the tower.”
He added vHive combines satellite imagery for the broader environment of where the site is located with the drone data that gives it the near-to-medium environment of the tower site, including its surroundings. “Then we also add in ground level imagery that can be captured by a user that has a small 360 Camera…both on the ground around the sights, but also inside the compound,” he said.
CPS’s Williams said in Australia, where EME information is important, users can put some equipment on the tower and model it in the digital twin, speeding up the whole colocation process. “The end Nirvana I think for these towercos is that their objective is to get as many customers as possible on a site…they make money by having multiple customers,” he said. “The fact we have to notify the public about EMS to be able to simulate in advance rather than going around this iterative process of going out in the spec from the site and finding out you’ve got an issue going back redoing it if you’re in a digital environment, it speeds up that whole process.”
Written by Simon Dux, CommsDay, Australia