Smart says drone-aided inspections help cut fuel use

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THE wireless unit of PLDT Inc. said that conducting cellular site inspections digitally by using drones can help in reducing the group’s fuel consumption and make data gathering from each tower more efficient.

Smart Communications, Inc. said it had completed a “proof of concept” for drone-aided digital inspection of its towers in Quezon City, Valenzuela, and Caloocan.

“The use of autonomous drone technology in capturing network tower information is seen to later replace the time-consuming, dangerous, and manual task of climbing each and every tower to gather and record data,” the company said.

Through the drone-captured images, Smart will be able to produce “digital twins” of its network towers. The aid of AI and machine learning will enable faster and data-driven decision-making.

The company said digital inspection will also cut the group’s fuel consumption as less frequent site visits help in reducing its carbon footprint.

During the trial, Smart said the drones required only about 30 minutes for data capturing, and two to three days to release the results.

According to the company, using drones is much faster than the current manual process and would make operations more cost-efficient, which can make services more affordable.

PLDT and Smart First Vice-President and Deputy Network Head Roderick S. Santiago said digital inspection “is a good example of how we are holistically transforming every aspect of our network to a future state through new ways of working and using automation to evolve our operations.”

“This is a step towards Smart’s vision of being the best in customer experience by building a fully automated, intelligent, highly efficient network, and putting in place sustainable network elements and operations,” he added.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Justine Irish D. Tabile