D.PRE uses drones to effectively manage slopes and bedrocks around highways and industrial sites

기사승인 2024.06.14  10:57:46


The climate crisis is causing unprecedented heavy rainfall, increasing the risk of landslides, rockfalls, and slope failures. South Korea is 70% mountainous, and when roads are built, mountains must be carved out, creating rock slopes and cut slopes in the incisions. Many of these slopes were built 20 to 30 years ago when the country was in the midst of development, increasing the risk of collapse due to aging. With the rainy and typhoon seasons just around the corner, it*s time to pay close attention to slope safety inspections. The government has established a safety inspection cycle for more than 50,000 slopes nationwide, but they are managed separately by ministries, requiring an integrated data and management system.



D.PRE was selected as a preliminary start-up package hosted by the Korea Expressway Corporation in 2022 and started a business. Last year, the company was recognized for its technology by winning the initial startup package for startup-oriented universities, the Jeonbuk Future Industry Youth Technology Startup Support Project, the grand prize at the 2nd National Territory Information Startup Contest, and the ‘2023 Smart Construction Challenge Road Category’ Innovation Award. Kunwoo Ko, the company’s founder and CEO, graduated from Chonbuk National University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and received his master’s and doctorate degrees in geotechnical engineering. For his doctoral thesis, he conducted a study on ‘Acquisition and utilization of rock discontinuity characteristics using RPAS (drone) LiDAR’ and developed ROFA Engine, a machine learning-based rock/ slope management solution. “Korea Expressway Corporation manages about 300 slopes, which are managed by one or two people, making it difficult to manage them properly, and there is a high risk of accidents due to the need to climb the slopes manually, and the risk of punishment under the Fatal Accident Act in the event of an accident. We developed D.PRE to solve these problems” says Ko. D.PRE utilizes drones to survey the 3D appearance of rocks and slopes, detect uplifted areas by comparing the previous year’s data with the current year’s data, and provide facility safety ratings. After identifying discontinuities and analyzing slope, slope direction, and roughness, the drone can detect areas of uplift (rock falls, cave-ins, etc.) through historical management of past 3D data. This makes it possible to efficiently manage entire slopes with drones inexpensively, widely, and efficiently, and to conduct surveys quickly, safely, and without traffic control.

“Drones and spatial information technology allow for safe and objective analysis. Add to that the fact that we don’t have to pay for traffic closures, and we save time and money” points out Ko. D.PRE’s core technology, the ROFA algorithm, is a proprietary technology that uses machine learning to analyze 3D modeling data collected by drones and turn it into professional design information to calculate objective stability and risk ratings. D.PRE, which has been recognized for its technological prowess, is in the process of signing a D.PRE platform contract with the Korea Expressway Corporation regarding slope management, and is proposing entry into the Korea Land and Geospatial Information Corporation’s spatial convergence platform and provision of spatial data. “We have signed business agreements with various domestic organizations and are working to secure overseas sales channels and intellectual property rights. This year, we are pursuing registration with the Public Procurement Service and certification of new technologies, and we plan to expand the facilities subject to inspection to bridges, dams, reservoirs, etc.” says Ko. 


Leading civil construction industry with new technologies

D.PRE aims to lead the civil engineering construction industry as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is promoting digitalization and automation of the entire construction process by 2030. “The digital transformation of the construction industry is urgent. I would like the government to first create the infrastructure such as building data, and then startups to create AI solutions or new solutions based on that data, and then a new paradigm shift through technological innovation. We will try to create a new market through the D.PRE platform and help workers manage facilities without accidents” says Ko.

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