Startup raises $6m for world's largest 3D model

November 10, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
A startup in the US has raised $6m to develop the world's biggest 3D model for the US electricity grid.

Enview, which develops 3D geospatial data analytics tools, is using machine learning and computer vision algorithms to automate the analysis of 3D data about the US electricity grid.

"Enview is building the most powerful 3D computer vision platform the world has ever seen and we're doing it for a very specific purpose---to protect energy infrastructure and keep people safe," said San Gunawardana, Co-founder and CEO, Enview. "Society depends on a vast network of power lines, pipes, and cables. Damage to this infrastructure results in explosions, fires, blackouts, and ecological contamination. This new round of capital will help us scale deployment of our technology to meet demand from some of North America's largest pipeline and power line operators to enhance safety and reliability."

According to 2017 report from the US Department of Energy, the country's energy transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure includes over 7.2 million miles of electric power lines and 2.6 million miles of oil and natural gas pipelines. However, it is also rapidly aging, highly vulnerable, and requires significant effort to operate safely and reliability.

Currently energy operators and the geospatial analytics industry rely on 2D data sources such as satellite and aerial imagery to monitor the grid. 3D data is generated with high-frequency laser scans, using a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor, and is much more accurate and can detect things that are invisible in 2D data. However, 3D data is much harder to analyze and 2D computer vision algorithms are fundamentally incapable of processing it. Therefore, it is typically analyzed by hand; a slow, expensive, and error-prone process. This has limited the use of 3D data to applications such as defense and high-voltage transmission power lines.

Enview's platform solves that problem by using massively-parallel cloud computing,  3D computer vision, and deep learning/artificial intelligence to enable a general leap forward in geospatial analytics capability.

"The geospatial analytics market is projected to grow from $31 billion in 2016 to $74 billion by 2021," said Matt Bigge, Partner at investor Crosslink Capital. "The Enview team