What We Do

National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations to keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry. As the corporate investment and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, NGP is helping drive the transition to a more digitized, smarter, and renewable energy system. NGP does so by investing and collaborating at the intersection of emerging technology and energy.

What They Do

AiDash uses satellite data and artificial intelligence to help utilities and other core industries keep their assets running. For electric utilities like National Grid, that means vegetation management—a critical part of protecting customers from outages, keeping them safe, and protecting the environment. The goal is to know as much as possible about what’s growing along electric lines before storms, falling trees, or overgrowth can disrupt service. 

Why NGP Invested

Managing thousands of miles of distribution lines is no simple task. Conventional approaches to vegetation management include helicopter patrols, drone flights, and manual inspections, all of which can be time-consuming and expensive. “We’re dealing with an asset that is very dynamic,” says Bertram Stewart, Vegetation Strategy Manager at National Grid. “We always have to be on the lookout to modify our approach to address some of the changes in vegetation.” 

AiDash combines high-resolution satellite data and AI algorithms to transform the process. “Using satellites, which are always present in the sky, you can always see your assets and help your operations and maintenance,” says Abhishek Vinod Singh, CEO at AiDash. 

The firm’s software sends images of everything that’s happening along every power line into computer models that can predict future risk – and help utilities know where to act. The solution provides more than just information: AiDash offers an end-to-end workflow and implements the vegetation management process itself, from deploying contractors to auditing their work.

Use case — Benefits to National Grid and the customers we serve

For National Grid, the collaboration has helped make vegetation management more efficient. In a Massachusetts trial deployment with Stewart’s team, AiDash was able to optimize National Grid’s trim cycle—the schedule of pruning vegetation near electric lines—from five years to nearly six years. That means less time and money wasted working on trees that don’t yet need to be trimmed. 

Another analysis helped pinpoint the locations at risk of fallen trees, which can cause up to 70 percent of power outages. AiDash assessed which areas were most likely to have falling trees and developed a list of hotspots that should be prioritized for hazard tree removal. 

“We challenged AiDash with several scenarios to test their capabilities while looking to meet our objectives,” says Stewart. “They were very interested in our needs.”

Click here for a short video on how the program has been rolled out across National Grid’s US service territory, keeping distribution lines safer and cutting expenses by as much as $12M per year.

Leading the way and delivering impact

Working with National Grid has given AiDash insights into a customer’s actual challenges and workflows, enabling them to fit their products to real-world problems. The startup’s technology has applications to manage vegetation in all areas, including encroachment on transmission & distribution power lines, oil & gas pipelines, railways and other critical infrastructure. NGP’s investment will help AiDash scale in the vegetation management segment and accelerate these additional use cases, reaching new clients in other markets. 

“We’ve had a good three months of opportunity working with Bertram to demonstrate that the technology works,” says Singh. “It has really accelerated the speed at which we are working and getting into the market, and is a significant strategic advantage which we now have.”