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Ministry of Economics funds TOPseven with 4.8 million euros for AI project

Victoria von Richthofen | 06/23/2022

f.l.t.r. Ulf Thiele, Member of the State Parliament of Lower Saxony; Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister of Economic Affairs of Lower Saxony; Knud Rissel TOPseven CEO; Dirk Specht, TOPseven Supervisory Board

The Ministry of Economics of the state of Lower Saxony is providing TOPseven with a total of €4.8 million for the project “AI-based autonomous drone inspection of inaccessible infrastructures”. Further €200,000 will be given to the scientific project partner, the Emden/Leer University of Applied Sciences.

The Minister of Economics Dr. Bernd Althusmann personally explained this unusually high amount of funding at handover of notification: “The project involves drone-based infrastructure analysis of bridges, ships and wind turbines, which is a highly innovative approach”, he said. He expects the project to “really move the region forward,” saying that it is a “great project that we want to promote accordingly. In his view, the long-term effect will be “very positive, not just for East Frisia, but also for Germany”.

TOPseven project’s innovative goals are the development of a new autonomous flying drone with an AI-based and GPS-independent control system as well as an AI-based automatic analysis of the enormous amounts of data for the autonomous detection of structural anomalies. A total of around €6.5 million will be invested in research and development with the university partner.

The TOPseven technology is one of the few worldwide to pursue the particularly challenging autonomous flight at close range. By moving autonomously and thus with high precision along a facility, the drone can generate a complete 3D image with the resolution of a human hair. This enables even larger infrastructures to be inspected for the smallest structural changes or anomalies without any gaps.

This is already possible today for wind turbines. The project now will take TOPseven technology to a new dimension and revolutionize the possibilities for monitoring and inspecting infrastructures beyond that. For the first time, it will be possible to reach areas of infrastructures, such as bridges or port facilities, that were previously inaccessible for manual inspections. This means that even highly complex and huge systems can be inspected precisely and without any gaps.

Dirk Specht, TOPseven Supervisory Board member, when speaking at the handover of the notification: “With our technology, we are creating transparency for the first time to assess the condition of thousands of infrastructures worldwide. We want to prevent bridges from collapsing ever again or important facilities from having to be suddenly taken out of service.”

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