Technology supporting critical infrastructure, agriculture and security

26 February 2024

Farms, infrastructure, energy networks, and logistics hubs: global monitoring is increasingly becoming a resource for companies and institutions to ensure the safety, quality, and efficiency of services and products. This is the topic of an in-depth article in Corriere della Sera, which highlights Leonardo’s commitment with three articles on the potential offered by the use of drones and artificial intelligence in security, agriculture, and construction.

The combination of satellite technology, artificial intelligence, and optical scanning is increasingly becoming a strategic tool for the private civil market and public administrations in Italy and Europe. Massimiliano Del Barba’s article, “AI comes to the waterfront”, highlights the potential of Leonardo’s technologies in global monitoring. Secure-by-design platforms are conceived right from the initial phase to be resilient to cyber threats, providing operators with an integrated, comprehensive, and always up-to-date overview of the context. Artificial intelligence algorithms allow the information gathered to be exploited, enabling informed and effective decision-making.

Leonardo’s technologies have contributed to several recent applications, including the European SecureGas project and the Gioia Sicura plan. The first one, completed in 2021, focused on the 140,000-km European gas network and covers the entire value chain from production to distribution. Integrating physical sensors and drones, it provides methodologies, tools, and guidelines to protect existing installations and make them resistant to cyber-physical threats. The second one includes a series of interventions, through monitoring and control activities, to ensure the integrated security of the Gioia Tauro port area. This is achieved with the help of a fleet of drones controlled by Leonardo’s command and control platform, which extracts data and information to facilitate decision-making in managing the port area’s security.

Using drones in security is an enabling tool, as Peppe Aquaro outlines in the article “Post-earthquake Scenario: The Synergy Between Students for a Drone-Robot Dialogue”, which describes the challenges faced by the Drone Contest participants. This year, the six universities involved were asked to imagine collaborative work between drones and ground robots following an earthquake, aiming to speed up the decision-making process and reduce intervention times. Leonardo’s initiative, now in its third year, promotes the development of artificial intelligence for use in uncrewed flight systems. The aim is to foster the creation of an innovation “ecosystem” involving the capabilities of large companies, universities, SMEs, spin-offs, and start-ups.

“Water stress and weeds. The eye in the sky allows more targeted intervention”: this article in the Corriere della Sera special issue outlines the potential of using drones in agriculture. Through Telespazio, Leonardo is experimenting with and assessing the best techniques to ensure the integration of information acquired by drones into the technological tools of Agriculture 4.0. By making the most of the information collected, specific AI algorithms can, for example, rid the soil of harmful weeds and determine plant water stress or a fruit’s state of ripeness. This information helps to increase productivity and, in parallel, reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities.