Thread adds AI to utility asset management

  • May 8, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

North Dakota-based Thread, formerly Airtonomy, a specialist in asset maintenance for energy and utilities, has built artificial intelligence (AI) driven predictive data collection technology using Microsoft Project AirSim.

Courtesy of the 2022 Federal Inflation Reduction Act, some $250bn investment will upgrade the USA’s electric grid with environmentally friendly renewable energy production, new transmission infrastructure and smart-grid technology. This means innovative approaches to scalable asset maintenance are needed to transform digitally the energy and utility sectors.

Thread delivers critical enterprise technology for those in the renewable energy sector seeking to streamline asset management strategies, transform critical infrastructure maintenance lifecycles and build a sustainable future.

Thread’s cloud-based Uniti platform combined with autonomous data collection capabilities enables frontline workers – not professional pilots – to collaborate proactively with engineers and managers, often hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres away from remote renewable energy sites, maintaining vital assets. Thread’s approach to maintenance and frontline worker data collection can be extended to any asset in any industry, enabling end-to-end workflows.

Thread uses Microsoft Project AirSim, a platform to build, train and test safely autonomous agents, such as drones, aircrafts or robots, through simulation. AI is at the heart of building autonomy. Project AirSim helps democratise and accelerate aerial autonomy, namely the ability to simulate accurately the real world, capture and process massive amounts of data, safely build and execute missions, and enable autonomy without the need for deep expertise in AI.

“Every AI-powered data collection routine is developed and tested countless times in simulated environments as operating near critical energy infrastructure isn’t feasible,” said Thread CEO Joshua Riedy. “We often speak of the remarkable capabilities of AI, yet seldom mentioned is the vital need for consistent, reliable, prescriptive data collection, especially in the real world. Because if AI is the key to building autonomy, data are the key to building AI, data that are impossible to obtain in the real world.”

Thread is for enterprises seeking to streamline and transform critical infrastructure lifecycle management. Leveraging its proprietary, data-driven, scalable, and robust platform technology, Thread lets frontline workers prescriptively collect asset data; organisations store, process and review collected data through integrated workflows; and teams such as frontline workers, engineers and managers collaborate seamlessly.