Rentadrone: Using aerial thermal imagery and machine learning for clean energy and agriculture uses

UNICEF Innovation Fund Cohort: Drones

Julio Rejón
Solar panels in the middle of the desert
06 December 2019

Rentadrone detects, classifies, and organizes errors and damaged modules in solar power panels using thermal aerial imagery to increase energy efficiency of solar power plants. Our team will also explore an alternate use-case of thermal imagery for agriculture and will collect and label aerial photos of crops which will be used to automatically detect diseases on crops. 

Using thermal aerial imagery, our team detects little defaults that are represented by hot spots in solar panels. These hotspots can make the solar plants less efficient resulting in less energy output. Throughout our development process we realized the same technologies can be applied to detecting diseases in crops. 

Our goal is to develop clean energy solutions and explore how we can leverage drone technology to practice precision agriculture and ensure food security. 


Drones are a cost-efficient and precise tool when studying large areas of land  (especially when you do not have to budget to contract an aircraft). Our team mounts various sensors to the drones we operate in order to garner more accurate and comprehensive data. Using these sensors, we are able to detect thermal imagery which is not visible to the human eye. Our team will also incorporate machine learning to automatically detect damage on solar panel modules and classify them between the most common failures.

We are aware that they are various stakeholders such as engineers, scientists and policymakers who can benefit from open source solutions for environmental remote sensing applications. We’re pleased that the investment from UNICEF Innovation Fund will provide a roadmap for our team to open source our core technology thereby increasing the adoption of solutions such as ours to be implemented in areas such as food security and emergency response among many other use cases.


Open-source solutions leverage the power of the collective -- by allowing solutions to be shared freely and widely. It also fosters regular improvements in a solution as others are able to build upon the tools we’re developing.

Rentadrone. The rentadrone prepare a drone to take flight near a solar power plant.
The rentadrone prepare a drone to take flight near a solar power plant.


The team at Rentadrone brings diverse skill sets and experiences which help us assess different situations from various perspectives. Carlos is an architect with experience in 3D modelling and aerial photogrammetry. Hector is a Mechanical Engineer, but also a business intelligence and data mining enthusiast. Alvaro, is a computer engineer and has built our online platform to host data and view reports.

Co-founder Valerie is a journalist by training but takes on the administrative and marketing roles that have helped the company to maintain order and accountability. Finally in my role as co-founder I (Julio) primarily focus on commercial development and customer journeys.



Our goals with our time with the UNICEF Innovation Fund are twofold; we are focused on developing sustainable green energy solutions and exploring how to leverage our core technology of thermal imagery to improve the quality of crops, giving better access to food for the communities we work in. We know that there is great potential for drones to reach these milestones in a faster and cost-efficient way!