Making site inspections safer with artificial intelligence
Today, telecommunications network operators inspect and maintain their base stations manually with the help of skilled workers. This process can be a time consuming and challenging process that requires a lot of resources. However, Haiming Bai, a Senior Developer at Ericsson, has discovered a way to change this. Haiming joined Ericsson in 2009, and over the last 10 years has worked in new innovation areas, including connected and AI drone projects in China, Brazil and South Africa. Haiming has an active imagination, but he’s also active in the traditional sense, and enjoys rock climbing and playing badminton as they help stimulate his creativity. Originally from the historical city of Xian where the famous terracotta warriors are still standing strong 2,000 years later, Haiming is now on a journey to build the future. Here, he shares how it’s going.
In one sentence, what is this new solution?
This project is a cloud-based AI system that makes site inspections safer.
What challenges are you trying to solve with this platform?
I’ve run multiple AI drone demos for different service providers, and I noticed that during the demos, they’d focus mainly on base station management. This gave me the idea that using AI drones in daily field services could solve some of their biggest challenges.
Currently, front-line workers inspect and maintain base stations manually, moving from location to location and taking videos and photos on different devices such as mobile phones and drones. This footage is then manually checked for fault issues, which is a slow, inefficient process that often doesn’t deliver the best results. A significant amount of time and money also needs to be invested in technical training for staff, and climbing towers comes with added health and safety risks. Current inspection processes aren’t harnessing the true power of big data and AI technology to help fix these issues.
How does this cloud-based AI system solve this challenge?
This solution leverages AI computer vision and cloud computing technologies. Our AI-based cloud system will support multiple devices for image capturing, allowing for example, service providers in China to use mobile phones for inspection and teams scouting in the Caribbean to use drones. After images and videos are uploaded to the AI cloud server, our AI system will automatically analyze the footage using our AI algorithm, and the inspection reports are sent directly to the worker.
This cloud-based AI system also supports data prediction, data training and algorithm optimization, and can analyze both existing images and upcoming image drops from current maintenance teams.
What’s the next step?
We are just starting out, but a lot has happened already! Last year we developed a web UI demo prototype on a private cloud, and from 2020 onwards we’ll start to move our AI solution to the public cloud. In 2020, we plan to run field trials in China during the summer and run another AI drone trial in Latin America.
What are the main benefits of developing the project within Ericsson ONE?
- Haiming Bai, Senior Developer at Ericsson
My coach, Sonny Wang, is giving me a tremendous amount of support and has helped me prepare for presentations and customer interviews. Without his help, I wouldn’t have been able to build a minimum viable product. His professionalism, persistence and encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to make this happen.
We could rapidly build our solution, which quickly improves our AI technology, reduces costs and improves field work efficiency. This will also strengthen our relationships with our customers.
I'm gaining a lot of knowledge and insights that will be useful throughout my entire career, such as marketing, customer skills and how to create teams and motivate them. I’m also getting to know people from different areas in the business.
What drives you to be an intrapreneur?
Intrapreneurship means being able to create something new and unique – just like an entrepreneur – while leveraging the advantages that come with the backing of a big with tremendous resources and business connections.
I want to continue to challenge myself throughout my career, practice skills like communication and product creation, and extend my network and worldview. Being an intrapreneur helps me build market insights and develop team management skills. This idea would not have been realized without the resources and competencies that Ericsson and Ericsson ONE provide.