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Data powered up with drone and artificial intelligence technology adds a competitive edge

Worker flying a drone near a plant
Drone data and artificial intelligence are becoming more effective in helping oil and gas operations improve efficiencies.

Like a newly discovered oil or gas reserve, collected data is an incredibly valuable asset to oil and gas companies. Used to its fullest potential, a rich data cache can provide intel about the future of the industry and point to potential growth areas. But without advanced analytics, most of your data is wasted.  

As oil and gas companies are discovering, drone tech and AI-powered platforms with advanced analytics capabilities can refine data stores into actionable insights. We're early in the adoption curve for drone tech in the sector, but some companies are using drones to improve worker safety, monitor and assess projects and generate real-time or near-real-time information.  

Use of AI is less common in the sector, mainly because few companies have a collaboration platform to facilitate teamwork, enable asset review and deploy instant AI models to deliver insights. As competition heats up in the volatile energy market, the oil and gas companies that maximize data use with drone and AI technology can build a lasting competitive advantage. 

Why It's Smart to Overcome Barriers to Technology Adoption Now 

Although it's early in the adoption cycle, drone use is growing in the oil and gas sector mainly because of its safety applications. Fewer workers using ropes and harnesses to scale structures reduces the company's risk exposure. And the cost of entry for deploying drones is relatively low, so more companies are simply choosing a drone model with the right features and sensors, plus adding a drone pilot/data capture professional.  

Implementing AI to optimize use of drone data is a higher hurdle because too often, the rich, high-fidelity data generated is siloed on someone's hard drive or in a shared drive in a native file format. What companies need is a platform that can share and display this information in meaningful ways and use AI modeling to guide analysis. With this type of platform, teams can annotate data and collaborate to review the results, with automation streamlining processes.  

Such a platform produces a trifecta of value: real-time information, plus collaboration and automation capabilities. This approach lets oil and gas companies put their best and brightest minds "onsite" in a virtual sense, even if team members are scattered across multiple time zones or based at the home office. And that drives significant operational benefits, including:

  • Accelerated build pace rates 
  • Lower total build costs 
  • Higher deliverable quality 
  • A visual record of truth to drive innovation 
  • More data to optimize operations 
  • Insight into program quality and progress 

 Real-time information, collaboration and automation drive better outcomes in all of these areas by cutting costs, improving quality, generating actionable insights, informing project evaluation criteria and defining milestones to measure progress. Data is the asset that makes it all possible. AI models automate basic reviews and handle core tasks so that your best people can focus on the more challenging and impactful reviews — at speed and as a team.    

Now Is the Time to Put Your Data to Work 

As other industries struggled with the business challenges of the pandemic, they accelerated existing digital transformation plans so they could empower and manage remote workforces and interact with customers online. A similar dynamic is at work in the oil and gas industry today. Companies are deploying technology solutions more rapidly to address safety concerns, cope with travel restrictions and enable collaboration with distant team members. 

It's unfortunate that it took a pandemic to expedite digital transformation, but it presents an opportunity to move forward. As an oil and gas company decision-maker, what you should keep in mind now is that these are your assets and your projects, and therefore, any data generated from them belongs to you. Drone and AI technology can help you put your data to work, using collaboration and automation to gain a competitive edge. Now is the time to make that happen.

Craig Cavey is Chief Commercial Officer, Talon.