In celebration of Entrepreneurship Week, February 12 through February 19, the Office of Electricity (OE) is highlighting Brains4Drones, a woman-owned small business operating out of Plano, Texas. Founded in 2016, Brains4Drones specializes in robotics, putting artificial intelligence (AI) on drones for electric utilities. When real-time visual intelligence is added to a drone, utility inspections can be completed much faster and safer.

Supported by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Brains4Drones equipped off-the shelf drones to rapidly assess storm damage on distribution lines using machine learning and vision recognition. They developed novel AI models and geo-localization methods to identify downed poles and conductors and encroaching vegetation. They refined and field-tested the developed algorithms and AI models at various locations across the South while working with a utility partner. Brians4Drones developed two AI accessories to boost the safety and efficiency of fully automated pole inspections.

Brains4Drones will continue their work by focusing specifically on using their technology to mitigate the wildfires. Their upcoming activities will focus on adapting their drone-based solutions to prevent the start of wildfires near distribution lines by performing inspections of lines and surrounding vegetation. Next, working with a utility partner, Brains4Drones will analyze not just the poles and their equipment, but also vegetation encroachment.

This is just one example of how DOE and OE can support small businesses. During Entrepreneurship Week, we’re proud to recognize the companies at the heart of energy innovation. They’re essential for our transition to a clean energy future.