NTT DOCOMO via its wholly owned subsidiary NTT DOCOMO Ventures has invested in a drone startup PRENAV, as part of the DOCOMO Drone Project, which was launched in October 2016.
DOCOMO drone project aims to facilitate the use of automatic-pilot drones, including enhanced infrastructure inspections featuring standardized quality, greater efficiency and the elimination of injury due to human error.
PRENAV, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, develops precision-guided drones for infrastructure inspection. Leveraging a proprietary LIDAR scanner and guidance system, PRENAV's drones are capable of automated flight in close proximity to structures, or indoors (i.e. in GPS-denied environments).
PRENAV is actively inspecting mobile phone towers and energy infrastructure in the United States, and this investment marks PRENAV's expansion to Japan.
DOCOMO plans to leverage PRENAV's drone solutions to deliver commercial solutions for inspecting other facilities, such as piers, power plants and oil drilling equipment, and highly beneficial services such as seismic fault identification and physical asset management.
In October 2017, as a first step in the DOCOMO Drone Project, DOCOMO began using manually operated drones on a trial basis to inspect base stations, aiming to eliminate the danger of technicians having to climb steel towers and to achieve more precise inspections of blind spots. In addition to inspecting its own facilities,
The DOCOMO Drone Project will continue to test the concept of combining DOCOMO's mobile network and drone solutions.