General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) is testing a swarm of drones and other robots that it’s hoping companies will want to use to inspect important industrial equipment like refineries and railroads.
Reuters reports that it’s already working with customers to tap what’s estimated to be a $40 billion global inspections market:
In trials with customers, aerial drones and robots are able to move around and inside remote or dangerous facilities while photographing corrosion or taking temperature, vibration or gas readings that can be analyzed by computer algorithms and artificial intelligence, Alex Tepper, head of business development at Avitas Systems, a startup General Electric Company (GE - Get Rating) formed for this business, told Reuters.
General Electric Company (GE - Get Rating) is expected to announce the new business, which is focused on the oil and gas, transportation and power sectors, as early as Tuesday at a conference in Berlin, Germany.
IBM will likely be GE’s biggest competitor in the space. Its IBM Tests unit has been conducting its own trials lately, although its early focus seems to be more on manufacturing plants rather than heavier industrials.
Both companies’ offerings should prove very attractive to companies in coming years. Current inspection processes are costly and time consuming, but with new technology, the speed and efficiency gains could be huge — and so could the revenue opportunities be for GE.
General Electric Company shares rose $0.16 (+0.55%) in premarket trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, General Electric Company (GE - Get Rating) has declined -7.69%, versus a 9.34% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.