Japanese startup FPV Robotics is leveraging drone technology to address a growing global need: inspecting aging infrastructure in an effort to avoid major issues like unexpected bridge collapses.

FPV Robotics CEO and founder Masaki Komagata showed me his company’s production Waver drone, which is debuting for the first time ever at CES 2020 in Las Vegas this week.Waver is an amphibious drone, which can fly thanks to eight rotors, and also speed along the surface of bodies of water using its floats.

This dual nature makes it particularly well-suited to solving a very specific task — a problem Komagata set out specifically to solve after observing that Japan Railways (JR) needed this addressed.This specific problem was rail bridge collapse, including damaged and destroyed bridges along the Tadami River in 2011 due to floods in Niigata and Fukushima.

Many of the spans that JR relies upon for its Shinkansen and other local trains in Japan are considerably old, and beginning to show their age. That wear can be further exasperated by environmental disasters — which are occurring with greater frequency as a result of climate change.

 

 

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