Dronebase rebrands as Zeitview to scale aerial solar scanning


In flight to reposition itself as an advanced inspection software company for energy and infrastructure, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and manned aircraft specialist Dronebase rebranded to Zeitview today.

The company is funding its business model pivot from drones and aircraft to an inspection software focus with a $55 million Series D equity round.  Zeitview lined up the equity raise with Valor Equity Partners, Union Square Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Euclidean Capital, Energy Transition Ventures, and Hearst Ventures.  The funding supports the company’s AI-enabled software and global footprint in advanced inspection solutions across a burgeoning utility-scale solar market, among other markets served.

Last year, Dronebase inspected 43 GW of global solar projects.

As Zeitview, the company will continue building advanced inspection software that delivers what it says are fast, accurate insights, lowers costs for asset owners and improves performance and longevity. Along with rotary wing drones, Zeitview inspection professionals use crewed aircraft and smartphone technologies to create flexible solutions for clients.

“We appreciate how important time is to our customers: on the one hand, they need immediate and accurate analysis about the health of their assets; on the other, they are building energy and infrastructure resources to last for decades,” said Dan Burton, founder and chief executive officer at Zeitview. “We are confident that our AI-enabled software solutions can deliver that immediate answer and a long-term home for our customers, while we are increasingly agnostic about what tool we use to capture the most accurate data.”

Zeitview means “time view” and the company says it better captures the nature of the company’s services and mission to accelerate the energy transition. In addition to providing real-time data, the company offers long-term solutions to track changes across a period of time for an asset.

Last year the company launched the North American Solar Scan.  Zeitview’s solar asset rating issues real-time ratings from A to D for operational solar projects of 1 MW and larger. The asset rating system provides data and analytics based on equipment, temperature and operating rating performance metrics. Similar to a project finance or credit ratings agency, solar projects can now carry a triple-letter rating from ‘AAA’ or ‘AAB,’ down to grade ‘D.’

Founded in 2015, the company expects to scale up its aerial data capturing solutions to scan 200 GW of solar assets this year, as its solar rating platform takes flight from 43 GW of solar assets scanned last year.

Solar asset owners such as SMA are finding that aerial inspections using drones and manned aircraft are the optimal way of managing and maintaining large solar installations. SMA has O&M contracts for over 1,000 sites, from small commercial of 30 kW and up to large-scale installations of over 600 MW.

Aerial inspections have great benefits to the solar industry. An unmanned drone can inspect about 20 MW per day per drone operator for on-demand thermal inspections or spot checks, while manned aircraft can capture over 500 MW in a 4-hour period. SMA uses both unmanned drones and airplanes to complete its inspections, finding aerial imaging far superior to “the old way” of doing things, which was manual inspection.

pv magazine will be hosting a webinar at 10:00am PST / 1:00pm EST time today titled, “DroneBase’s North American Solar Scan brings transparency to U.S. solar market.”  Joining us will be Mark Culpepper, General Manager of Global Solar Solutions at Dronebase.  The webinar is available to the general public by pre-registering at this link.

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