By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

EIT Digital has launched a new cloud-based platform for drone monitoring. Using a connection to mobile networks, Cloud4Drones is a cloud-based centralized data harvesting platform.

The cloud infrastructure allows for storage, back up and the live use of any data collected by the drone. Professional drone operators will also be able to build new cloud-enabled services in areas such as infrastructure monitoring.

EIT Digital is a European open innovation organisation that brings together over 130 European corporations, SMEs, start-ups, universities and research institutes. EIT Digital invests in strategic areas to accelerate market uptake of research-based digital technologies and develop entrepreneurial talent and leadership in Europe.

The Cloud4Drones platform has been developed as part of EIT Digital’s ‘Cloud Platform for drone monitoring Innovation Activity’. It is one of the 13 innovation activities of the Digital Infrastructure Action Line of EIT Digital for 2017.

The Digital Infrastructure Action Line aims to enable digital transformation by providing secure, robust, responsive, and intelligent communications and computation facilities.

The Cloud4Drones platform is focused on human pilot controlled Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Maurizio Griva, the Innovation Activity Leader and Internet of Things Solution Manager at Reply said:

“Our Innovation Activity is the first step towards the evolution of drones as autonomous or self-driving drones. The digitalisation of drone services and their connection to cloud computing is the essential first step for the mature adoption of this technology. This will be possible only if the drones are connected to mobile networks which cover almost all of the European soil and thus provide a widespread communication channel.”

Based in Italy, Reply is the project co-ordinator and business champion of the innovation activity. Mr Griva continued: “Our way of building the drone applications by exploiting the connection to the mobile networks will be new. Unlike existing approaches, it will allow an inspector or domain expert to support operations without the need to be on field, by providing feedbacks or advice while the drone is still on flight.

This is an improvement in terms of efficiency and cost-reduction. It is particularly relevant where infrastructure is spread in wide areas that are difficult to reach – like dams in the mountains or offshore infrastructures.”

The annual cost for various maintenance inspections in Europe is estimated at approximately €2 billion. A 2016 study by Deloitte suggested that between 15 and 20 wind turbines could be inspected in one day using drones with advanced software. Around two to five wind turbines could be inspected daily by traditional ground-based methods.

The Cloud4Drones platform is expected to be commercially available by the end of 2017. It will contain a centralized data harvesting platform, a prototype hardware platform with on-board software to be deployed on the drone, and flight control tools to assist users with the design of operations.

Other EIT Digital partners who are participating in the project include: Telecom Italia, Thales Italia, Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (France), and Eurecom (France). The field experiments will be divided between Italy and Spain with a focus on radio tower and power plant infrastructure.

EIT Digital is also a Knowledge and Innovation community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). With its headquarters in Brussels, EIT Digital has centres in Berlin, Budapest, Eindhoven, Helsinki, London, Madrid, Paris, Stockholm, Trento and a hub in Silicon Valley.

For more information visit:
Twitter: @EIT_Digital

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