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Growing up as a robot lover, Rex Sham always looked for ways to implement artificial intelligence to solve social problems. The one issue that caught his attention was wildfires that severely harmed the environment and affected animals and humans. The problem was and continues to be that most forests are monitored by humans, who tend to lose concentration from static objects like forests leading to late detection, whereas, some are under CCTV surveillance that may not be effective on rainy or hazy days. On the other hand, satellite-based cameras can track the movement of only big fires when the fire is already out of control but fail to detect fires early on to contain them. So the elephant in the room that needed to be dealt with was a solution that can detect or record forest fires at an early stage. And, Sham found a sweet spot in the market of automatic risk detection management to warn about early-stage wildfires with Insight Robotics, alongside his long standing partner, Kevin Chan in 2009. Insight Robotics is a forestry-focused risk management company that designs robots to detect very early stage wildfires to prevent them from spreading, all in an effort to detect fire early, hence dramatically reducing suppression costs, asset loss and other threats to human safety.
Insight Robotics has developed InsightFD, a first of its kind automated detection system that consists of robots powered by solar and wind energy and can be placed high above treetops on existing lookout towers to survey their surroundings using smoke-detection algorithms and computer-aided thermal technology for early forest fire detection. The system can detect fires at a distance of 13 kilometers, which is spread in an area as small as six square meters, basically just one tree on fire. In fact, it can spot over 95 percent of small fires within 10 minutes of ignition, minimizing damage to assets. It can work under harsh weather conditions such as fog and haze round the clock without human intervention. The system provides industryleading accuracy, real-time surveillance, and early detection of emerging wildfires, shifting the focus to efficient early suppression rather than costly firefighting. InsightFD is used by Wildfire service, national park, and forestry in Asia, the Americas, and Europe.
In keeping with Sham’s vision and the company’s goals, Insight Robotics’ COO, William Tao tirelessly works toward enhancing the company's core competencies while strengthening the current business position by expanding the business horizontally and geographically. Under his leadership, the company has branched out into numerous other areas of forestry, like providing drones and AI-based analytics solutions for surveillance. Insight Robotics’ most recent innovation is to provide AI-based detection and prediction solution for computer vision to utility and infrastructure assets owner.
AI Powered Solutions for the Power Grid and Utility
Tao elaborates on the current painpoints faced by the utility and power grid companies and how Insight Robotics is bringing relief to them.
Our experience, our one-stop-shop solution, and our in-house technologies help us stay on the leading edge of the market
Identifying Plantation Health and Illegal Land Use
Besides power grid protection, Insight Robotics offers a solution to manage the risk of forestry for plantation health. The company’s drone-based forestry survey solution detects the health and pest issue of plantation using the AI detection model. In an instance, the China Academy of forestry used this AI-based detection model in a country park to identify the pine wilt nematode disease that led to dead and unhealthy pine trees. Similarly, the company assisted Genting Plantation from Malaysia to improve water management of their oil palm plantation by identifying the issues and mitigating the risks of flooding using the UAV aerial survey.
What is more, Insight Robotics also enables clients such as governments and asset owners to identify illegal land use through its drone-based aerial survey service to reconstruct a high-quality 3D image map of the forestry area. Governments or asset owners can then use this 3D image map to compare it with the land-use boundary using Insight Robotics’ AI-based change detection model to detect any illegal land use or logging to protect reservation area and forestry asset. “Our company's forestry-focused packages help our end-users to evaluate the risks related to wildfire, plantation health and illegal land use or illegal logging,” says Tao.
For over a decade, Insight Robotics has been developing computer vision-based AI and drone technological development and business solutions focusing on areas of environmental and infrastructure analytics. With constant innovation and research and development, the team at Insight Robotics has managed to acquire significant know-how of image analytics with different types of sensing technologies in these two areas. In addition, the company has meticulously worked to assist clients by providing a total solution from data acquisition, data processing, data analytics, and consultation services to address their problems and needs. Insight Robotics also provides a custom solution to satisfy client needs, depending on our customers' requirements.
"Our company's forestry-focused packages help our end-users to evaluate the risks related to wildfire, plantation health and illegal land use or illegal logging"
The company is always sprinting towards new innovations and is currently working on developing its own image processing and analytics tools to provide best in class service and solution to customers. Tao cites the example of plantation and forestry sector, where the company developed its own drone sensor payload, rapid image stitching tool, AI-based plantation detection counting, and sizing model, plantation health detection model, as well as plantation growth/yield prediction model. All these tools can help provide timely, high quality, and accurate results to customers. “Our experience, our one-stop-shop solution, and our in-house technologies help us stay on the leading edge of the market," says Tao.
Leading with Example
With Tao as the COO, the company stays on the frontline of innovation as he manages the effectiveness of both internal and external processes, as well as collaborating with the management team to develop and implement plans. He is supported by a team of experienced professionals from the field of AI and robotics. "We treasure our people. Our colleagues are the most important asset of the company. We are open-minded and always encourage open discussion and sharing between our colleagues,” says Tao. Moreover, the company enables teams to learn new things via the new project execution or on the job training so that the company can grow together with its colleagues.
Commencing its journey in the forestry and environmental sector ten years ago by applying AI and statistical model-based image processing and analytics techniques, Insight Robotics today positions itself as a company developing a custom solution to protect any critical assets for asset owners by leveraging computer vision technologies. In terms of technological development, the company will spend more resources to enhance further its core competence in AI-assisted and highly automated analytics aspects. In terms of business development, the company will expand its services and solutions to cover smart city development opportunities. Recently, Insight Robotics has leveraged its core competence to infrastructure and construction industry sectors. From a geographical standpoint, the company will continue to strengthen its business position in the Asia Pacific region while exploring the opportunities along the other belt and road-related countries for long term growth.
July 22, 2020