Editor’s note: Joe Magno is Executive Director, the North Carolina Center of Innovation Network, which is a partner with WRAL TechWire.

RALEIGH – Every day we hear how drones are going to impact our lives. The popularity of drones is creating numerous business opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. Photographers, land surveyors, farmers and others are leveraging drone technology to enhance efficiency and reduce costs.

We recently met with Meredith Fowler, entrepreneur and licensed drone pilot who has built her Raleigh based business by integrating drone technology, specialized sensing, and analytics.

Her company Geoptic Aeria substantially reduces costs for power generation, telecom and construction companies by addressing the challenges of inspecting and maintaining large and remote installations. By deploying its intelligent drones Geoptic Aerial, can quickly inspect, collect actionable data, perform analysis, and when needed dispatch maintenance crews to specific trouble spots avoiding the laborious and time-intensive on-the ground inspections and avoid outages by preemptively addressing issues.

  • VIDEO: Watch an overview of a thermal scan at a solar field: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SWyqpm1Ciw

With North Carolina being the number two states for large solar installations, Geoptic Aerial’s business continues to grow here in North Carolina and across the Southeast and West Coast where solar operators are looking to increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

Geoptic drones are equipped with sensitive infrared cameras that quickly detect problems on large solar sites by collecting and analyzing the data. Inspections for these types of issues would traditionally take two to three days for two technicians to complete on the ground. By applying these innovations Geoptic’s methods cut inspection time for a typical solar site by 60%.

Upon completion of an inspection, Geoptic delivers custom reports on the thermal and RGB (optical) data collected at each site and partners with solar O&M providers and electricians to provide estimates and timelines for critical repairs needed.

Along with solar farm inspections Geoptic’s drone technology and expertise in thermal data analysis has also been applied in roofing inspections, cooling pond inspections, 3D modeling, documentary film making, and virtual reality video capture.

“Geoptic is as responsive as it gets. We receive a report of what’s wrong on our site, along with their proposed fix, within a day,” says Carolina Solar Services.

“They also report on potential issues that could arise soon. The imagery is beautiful, and the staff is beyond effective.”

Geoptic Aerial is another innovative example of North Carolina’s growing aviation cluster and the Region’s strong base of entrepreneurial talent in engineering, sustainable energy, aviation, remote sensing, and data analytics.

“From our perspective, the UAV industry and solar industry are both growing and changing at a rapid pace,” said Fowler.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be on the forefront of these industries. We’re continually finding new ways to generate and deliver actionable data to our clients, which allows them to have a current, reliable picture of progress and efficiency on their sites.”