How visual data is propelling a new wave of climate tech

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This article was contributed by Evan Niselson, General Partner, LDV Capital

Until recently, there was no visceral understanding that the biggest challenge we face is to fix the planet. Responding to environmental problems has long been seen as a marketing strategy by large companies that make consumers more environmentally conscious than others. Today, recruitment, literally, is changing and sustainability is now an important mission for businesses as new wisdom has emerged that demonstrates how being ‘green’ is a catalyst for innovation and market opportunities.

Climate tech companies can now take advantage of advances in visual data collection, computer vision and AI to strengthen their bottom line by focusing on enhancing sustainable practices. Earth observation and analysis now goes beyond the risk index, and can actually measure and reduce the risk of water, fire and land use. Molecular imaging and computational design are making fabrics, food, and packaging more sustainable, and autonomous robotics is paving the way for accurate agriculture, supply chain, and manufacturing.

Climate tech hype curve. D LDV, 2022

Real-time Earth climate observation and analysis

The field of real-time Earth observation and analytics has made significant progress over the last few years to include remote sensing opportunities that extend beyond traditional space-agency-based platforms and their offerings. According to Euroconsult, a leading global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm specializing in the space sector and satellite-enabled verticals, the Earth observation data and services market is projected to reach $ 7.5 billion by 2030. Sensors have been minimized, and energy requirements have been reduced, resulting in new start-up companies today operating more satellites in orbit than any space agency at minimal cost compared to traditional satellite missions. As the severity of the climate crisis intensifies, satellite Earth observation techniques linked to historical data can generate risk measurement and mitigation strategies for future disasters related to forest fires, floods and droughts.

For example, advances in new space-generated measurements have promoted the development of flood tracking or precipitation monitoring from real-time high-definition video. Small unmanned drones close to the surface are capable of mapping or estimating the depth of ice, providing insight into new processes across geographical conditions. In addition, globally, land cover and land use threaten sustainability. It is beneficial to analyze the global, beautiful spatial resolution time-series dataset of land cover as the location and time of changes in land use on Earth can be identified. This can be applied to stabilize forest damage or to manage the carbon cycle.

Real-time Earth observation. D LDV, 2022

Using real-time earth observation and analytics with artificial intelligence and machine learning can model the economic impact of climate events and risk tasks and find vulnerabilities. Insights into the location, severity and timing of physical and transition risks contribute to quantifying risk assessment scores so that financial institutions and enterprises can develop mitigation strategies in advance.

Furthermore, “observing ecosystems and natural assets through satellite images and interpreting other information from remote-sensing sources can be important for companies, NGOs and municipalities to monitor and address a wide range of sustainability concerns such as water pollution, water scarcity or access. Is. Of watersheds and water resource management, ”says Dimple Roy, director of water management for the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “Imagery and remote sensing will be important to deal with major water hazards such as floods, droughts and everything in between.” Finally, new technologies nurtured by advances in remote sensing platforms give us the opportunity to better manage and mitigate risk in severe climatic events.

Molecular imaging and computational design

Advances in molecular imaging, advanced light-based technology and computational design are how and what we can create to make food and materials more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. Continuous advances in spectroscopy and nanophotonics push us towards super-resolution lenses and microscopes that are capable of providing insights into a wide variety of biological and chemical processes and compositions.

Global Metal Materials Market Graph. D LDV, 2022

These findings will inspire and inform the creation of advanced geometries and materials, such as metamaterials, that enable high-performance computers that take up less space and consume less energy. Light and laser direct deposition, photopolymer waveguide and light-based scanning for ultra-precise metrology will be required to produce continuous additions of all prototypes that take advantage of advanced material properties. These prototypes would be faster and cheaper to replicate and could lead to the development of high-efficiency parts, such as ultra-efficient turbines that are manufactured more cost-effectively and with less environmental impact.

Cellular agriculture like meat grown in the laboratory takes advantage of the molecular image. New proteins are being invented through computational design that can coat and enhance the freshness of food. Due to genotyping and phenotyping of plants and seeds, more nutritious and less resource-intensive produce is grown. “Analyzing and visualizing 3D structures and the movement of proteins at the molecular level enables protein redesign that fits the collective food market in terms of sustainability, health, taste, stability and value,” says Ilan Samish, author of Amy Proteins. Computational protein design,

These advances are not only becoming champions through food and agriculture but also opening up huge opportunities in biodegradable and recycled textiles and packaging that will have a tremendous impact on the ecological impact of fashion and the supply chain.

Autonomous robotics enables precision in many areas

Autonomous robots need a variety of cameras, leaders, radar, and real-time perception to see and navigate the world around them. The connection between small carbon footprints and primarily electrical autonomous vehicles is well documented. However, the positive environmental impact of autonomous robotics goes beyond self-driving cars. Vision-capable robots will enable many tasks to be performed more efficiently, accurately and in an environmentally friendly manner.

Agriculture and management. D LDV, 2022

In agriculture, autonomous robotics and equipment-mounted sensors are enabling real-time plant-level management, reducing environmentally harmful inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers and improving yields. Camera and edge computing enable new weed systems, for example, to make plant level decisions in real time, reducing herbicide use by up to 90%. Robotic field aids will exacerbate farm labor shortages resulting in significant food waste.

Autonomous robots and drones will collect data on weather conditions, changes in biodiversity and more in outdoor settings to do things like advising better trade routes for ships and trucks to make the least impact on other species. Indoors, they will improve efficiency in production processes and limit waste and fuel consumption.

Global warehouse with robots by year. D LDV, 2022

By 2025, 4 million vision-capable robots will be deployed in 50,000 warehouses to assist in automated tasks in warehouses and distribution centers. They will be able to store more goods in smaller facilities, even some “dark warehouses” which will reduce energy consumption and land use. In addition, robots equipped with cameras, 3mm wave sensors and more will play a central role in solving the challenges posed by compensation and reverse logistics, which is a major contributor to global waste and is projected to reach $ 603.9 billion market by 2025.

The future of climate technology

Market appetite for climate tech is growing significantly and advances in visual sensing, computer vision and AI are triggering a huge new wave of compelling climate tech companies powered by visual data. More and more companies are incorporating environmental and social governance into their business operations, resulting in improved sustainability scores directly related to improvements in financial and operational performance as well as lower capital costs. With climate change an existential threat to humanity, this generation will see a new crop of innovation to address mission-critical issues.

Evan Nielsen is a common partner in LDV Capital


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