Pacific Gas and Electric Company needed a way to monitor construction and demolition projects in San Francisco to identify potential intrusions into gas line right-of-ways. They found the solution 2,391 miles away at the University of Dayton’s Vision Lab.

Here, Vijayan Asari’s team developed new algorithms and technologies to detect threats to facilities like gas lines. The software analyzes satellite images to find changes in the environment and communicates the findings to the utility company for additional follow-up. The system helps combat human fatigue and error when conducting such meticulous comparisons — improving both safety and performance.

This technology could also save bridges, railroads, highways, pipelines and other areas from threats or damages. With more than 2 million miles of pipelines spanning the U.S. — impacting virtually every community — the need for advanced technologies to ensure safe operation is essential.

Recent successes with this research have helped the Vision Lab establish a long-term relationship with the Pipeline Research Council International, and there are plans to commercialize the lab’s automatic threat detection system software.

The technology can even be applied to humans. The lab is developing robots with facial recognition capabilities that can identify and assess the wounded, keeping first responders out of harm.