Ambient Corp. and Itron Inc. (Nasdaq: ITRI) today jointly announced the development of a module designed to eliminate the need for drive-by utility meter reading. The Ambient® EDC module is a more advanced option to smart metering over legacy automatic meter reading using encoder receiver transmitter (ERT) modules.

“The possibility of leaving assets stranded without a clear road map or without a viable option for incorporating such assets into a smart grid platform has prevented many utilities from deploying smart grid technology. The new EDC module, developed with cooperation from Itron, gives utilities a critical migration path linking their legacy meters to newer advanced communications systems without stranding recently deployed assets,” John J. Joyce, president and CEO of Ambient stated in the press release. “With greater than 60 million ERT meters in the U.S. alone, the market potential is very significant.”

The EDC module can be integrated into Ambient’s smart grid node and be installed at points along the distribution grid. The EDC picks up on messages from meters equipped with ERT modules, and collects and stores the data. This eliminates the need for utility personnel to perform monthly utilities readings.

Russ Vanos, director of marketing for Itron, said today’s announcement supports the company’s dedication to its partners and customers.

“Itron has always believed in the value migration brings to utilities as their business needs for automation continue to grow. We look forward to working with our partners to create an open, industry standard smart grid environment. Ambient’s EDC module provides another valuable tool our customers can use, especially those that are looking for ways to bridge to Itron’s OpenWay® solution,” Vanos stated.

The companies said they plan to continue work together to execute a strategy in which the EDC module will be transferred to the utility’s meter collection software, and eventually to their billing system.

“This new application continues to demonstrate the flexibility and extensibility of the Ambient Smart Grid® platform. A node with the EDC module can also be simultaneously utilized to provide other smart grid applications such as distribution system monitoring,” Ram Rao, chief technology officer of Ambient stated in the press release. “The EDC is currently being tested in the field by one of our utility partners.”