Yamaha’s drones have been dusting crops in Japan for more than two decades and handle more than a third of the nation’s rice paddies. That’s helped farmers cope with an aging population that’s winnowed the agricultural labor supply. Yamaha’s drones also operate in South Korea and Australia and are used for research in France.
Although there are hundreds of rival agricultural drones, many are smaller, powered by batteries, and work mainly collecting data, monitoring disease, and mapping. The gasoline-powered, scooter-size RMax, which has two 2.1‑gallon tanks, can fly for an hour when fully loaded with chemicals. It is radio controlled and has an onboard GPS system to keep its flight precise. Aerial spraying can be done as much as five times faster than with tractors, says Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Subcultron is a swarm of at least 120 self-directing, underwater robots being developed by scientists in six countries to monitor Venice’s polluted waterways and transmit environmental data to government officials.
Ehang says its 142-horsepower electric motor is good for an average cruising speed of 62 mph. The Ehang 184 has a span of 18 feet when fully unfolded, weighs 440 lbs, and can carry a passenger weighing up to 264 pounds. Its maximum flying altitude is 11,480 feet, and the AAV can fly for as long as 23 minutes at sea level.
And—get this—the Ehang 184 can be controlled entirely through a mobile app. In fact, Ehang says passengers only have to execute two commands: “take off” and “land.” Once you’ve set your course, the Ehang 184 will take off vertically, and use real-time sensor data (and presumably GPS) to keep you on course.
Buzzing along at 350 feet, it takes the ground-controlled aircraft just 11 minutes and 16 seconds to pass over 22.5 acres and capture 219 images.
If a yellow patch shows up on the near-infrared photographs, that alerts the staff at Highland Precision Ag — and eventually, the grower — that there is an issue with some of the plants. The drone team can then come back with more specialized cameras and lenses to pinpoint exactly the problem the plants have encountered, whether that’s spider mites, mold or something else that could kill them or hinder peak production.
Over the next three years, the system Highland Precision Ag is developing will give farmers custom computer dashboards on which they can monitor their crops, follow recipes for treating disease and treat only those areas of their fields that need it.
“Most farmers today just broadcast chemicals” across their fields, Maxwell said. “We want to get to the point we can build a recipe with fertilizer or chemical companies, a customized treatment plan. That will reduce the footprint, environmentally, while still producing the yields we need to produce for a hungry world.”
Known as FPV (first-person view) drone racing, or sometimes FPV quadcopter racing, the sport involves building and modifying quadcopters for speed and manoeuvrability, adding a virtual reality-style headset with a live video feed from the drone, and then finding safe and legal places to fly. Racers compete in heats or time trials, speeding around courses at anything up to 60mph (100km/h)—and having a load of fun in the process. This sport, which seems to appeal to aspiring pilots, makers, and computer game fans alike, has all the adrenaline of flight, while also providing enough crashes, smashes, and collisions to keep even the most ardent sports fans happy.
“The list also has lesser-known manufacturers that are gearing up to offer the USPS some innovative ways to moving its mail carriers and the packages they deliver. Ohio-based AMP Holding Inc. builds delivery vehicles that come with optional drones capable of ferrying packages short distances. Several electric vehicle makers also are on the list, including Northern California’s Zap Jonway Inc. and Missouri-based Emerald Automotive LLC.”
Below is an example of a delivery truck with integrated drone that is being evaluated.
Since Dorn Cox began automating his 250-acre New Hampshire farm four years ago, he has installed dozens of sensors. Some measure moisture in soil around his squash. Some track temperatures in the greenhouse air around his cucumbers. Others track wind speed and rainfall in segments of field roughly a quarter-acre in size. When something is amiss—temperatures are too high or the soil is too dry—he receives an alert on his smartphone. He also sends out drones to survey his field crops for dryness, soil erosion, and plant health.
‘American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved AIG’s request to operate small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to conduct inspections for risk assessment, risk management, loss control, and surety performance for customers in the U.S. The exemption also permits AIG to implement a robust research and development program to explore new and innovative ways to employ UAVs in support of the needs of its customers.”
“AIG has already established an international UAV research and development program and conducted flights in New Zealand. These flights have provided valuable insights on technology, flight operations, and image collection techniques that will be incorporated into AIG’s global UAV strategy. AIG’s global presence puts the company in a unique position to build our expertise today and to operate UAVs safely and effectively in the U.S. and around the globe.”
Flyability's founding team developed the unique form after analyzing how flies are adept at ricocheting off obstacles without injury. After their research at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the team decided to mimic the same resilience by placing the drone in a lightweight, flexible, and strong geodesic shell. The delicate innards remain unscathed, even if the gadget falls to the ground.
In most other respects, Gimball, which is powered by a lithium battery, is similar to other drones designed for professional use. It's held in the air by two contra-rotating propellers and remains upright with the help of a gyroscope and an accelerometer. The drone also has two cameras—one optical, the other thermal—to relay live footage to the user.
A handful of companies, including film producers, have gotten waivers from the FAA to use drones for commercial purposes. But the filmmakers, for instance, must notify the FAA three days in advance, only film on a closed set and obtain permission from nearby people.
Such restrictions wouldn’t make sense for covering breaking news, said CNN Senior Vice President David Vigilante. The network is proposing a different approach, such as regulations similar to those for helicopters, “so it allows us the flexibility to deal with breaking news,” he said.
CNN is testing a range of drone types, from the hobbyist models that many people got for Christmas to powerful pieces of machinery that could carry a glass lens camera and transmit high-definition video, he said. The TV network plans to share its findings with the FAA over the next 12 to 24 months.