NTT DOCOMO, INC. and its wholly owned subsidiary NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Inc. has announced that as part of the DOCOMO Drone Project, which was launched in October 2016 to facilitate the use of automatic-pilot drones, including enhanced infrastructure inspections featuring standardized quality, greater efficiency and the elimination of injury due to human error, DOCOMO, through NTT DOCOMO Ventures, invested in PRENAV, INC.
PRENAV, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, develops precision-guided drones for infrastructure inspection. Leveraging a proprietary LIDAR scanner and guidance system, PRENAV’s drones are capable of automated flight in close proximity to structures, or indoors (i.e. in GPS-denied environments).
The company’s unique technology enables industrial asset owners and service providers to scale drone-based inspections across their workforce, relying on automation to ensure safe, accurate flight and efficient image processing, 3D reconstruction, measurement and analysis. PRENAV is actively inspecting mobile phone towers and energy infrastructure in the United States, and this investment marks PRENAV’s expansion to Japan.
In October 2017, as a first step in the DOCOMO Drone Project, DOCOMO began using manually operated drones on a trial basis to inspect base stations, aiming to eliminate the danger of technicians having to climb steel towers and to achieve more precise inspections of blind spots. In addition to inspecting its own facilities, DOCOMO plans to leverage PRENAV’s drone solutions to deliver commercial solutions for inspecting other facilities, such as piers, power plants and oil drilling equipment, and highly beneficial services such as seismic fault identification and physical asset management.
The DOCOMO Drone Project will continue to test the concept of combining DOCOMO’s mobile network and drone solutions.