Enview Raises $6M Series A to Monitor Safety of Energy Infrastructure
Silicon Valley residents are unlikely to forget the deadly 2010 explosion and fireball in San Bruno, CA, which was caused by the breakdown of a gas pipeline that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was later convicted of failing to identify as high-risk.
Now, San Francisco startup Enview is using artificial intelligence and 3D computer vision to detect such energy infrastructure frailties within an aging U.S. network of pipelines and electrical power lines. The company, incorporated in 2015, announced Wednesday that it has raised $6 million in a Series A financing round led by Crosslink Capital.
Joining the round were Lemnos, Promus Ventures, and Skype co-founder Toivo Annus. Enview gained two new board members: Crosslink Capital partner Matt Bigge and Lemnos partner Helen Boniske.
Enview is trying to update the methods used by utilities and other infrastructure operators to assess the risk of power failures and fuel supply interruptions, as well as catastrophic equipment failures that endanger lives and property. Traditional 2D imaging techniques for this task are now rivaled by three-dimensional data captured by laser scans using airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors—–the same technology used to power navigation in self-driving cars.
Enview is developing 3D geospatial data analytics capabilities to extract useful insights on potential risks from the firehose of information yielded by the 3D scans provided by outside sources. The images can reveal external threats to underground pipelines such as landslides, digging, or flooding. They can expose damage to above-ground electrical towers and lines, such as deformed power poles and sagging conductors. Envision also folds other data into its analysis from sources such as inspection robots that crawl through pipes measuring pipe wall thickness and stress. [The Enview image above shows tree branches growing too close to power lines.]
Crosslink Capital’s Bigge estimates that the market for geospatial data analytics will grow from from $31 billion in 2016 to $74 billion by 2021, according to Enview’s financing announcement.
Enview was co-founded by CEO San Gunawardana, who worked with NASA and the U.S. Air Force after earning a PhD in aerospace engineering at Stanford University, and COO Krassimir Piperkov, previously director of business development at Vacaville, CA-based ICON Aircraft, where Gunawardana was an early employee.
Image courtesy of Enview