COLLABORATION

AeroVironment is bringing drones to agriculture with university collaboration

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AeroVironment has donated 87 Quantix hybrid drones to 35 US universities for agriculture testing.

AeroVironment wants to transform the future of farming by utilising state of the art drone technology paired with advanced analytics. The company aims to achieve this with the help of a widescale university collaboration, using some of America’s top agriculture school to test new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS) and report their findings.

The trial is part of the 2019 Quantix & AV DSS University Collaboration Project that has partnered the drone expert with 35 universities and colleges across the country.

They have donated 87 Quantix hybrid drones and AV DSS ecosystems – a data analytics platform – to the agricultural departments of top-flight universities, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cornell University, North Dakota State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and University of Louisiana-Monroe.

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“AeroVironment’s donation of Quantix & AV DSS will enable participating universities to quickly and easily gain the on-demand field intelligence they need to advance multiple areas of agriculture research, while enhancing the understanding and application of drone-based technology,” Vice President of Business Development at AeroVironment, Rick Pedigo, said in a press release.

“With on-demand access to high-resolution imagery and advanced data analytics, we’re preparing the latest generation of farmers to employ drone technology (Quantix & AV DSS) throughout their farming practices, improving crop production and farming efficiencies for years to come.”

The new Quantix drones are purpose-built to assist farmers in the efficient running of largescale agricultural lands. They are capable of surveying up to 400 acres of land in just 45 minutes, allowing ease for crop scouting. They also capture high-resolution colour and multispectral imagery thanks to their integrated sensors and dual 18-megapixel cameras. These are then wirelessly transmitted to an operating tablet, allowing farmers to assess situations in real-time while they are still out in the field.

Taking it a level further, the AV DSS platform is able to perform advanced image processing and data analytics to help users make sense of the information and get an in-depth insight into the state of the vegetation, resource management, and progress of plant growth.

The universities taking part in the project will test these capabilities in a range of different trial situations and study the precision of the agriculture drones. Planned tests include areas such as crop nutrient and input management, artificial intelligence for detecting weeds, pests and diseases, and improved accuracy of crop yield prediction.

This experience will then be shared with the aim of improving in-field performance and hopefully encouraging the use of such drones in the agriculture sector.

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“Working with industry leaders such as AeroVironment allows our programme to stay on the forefront of the UAS field,” said Paul Karlowitz, Director of Operations at the University of Louisiana Monroe’s Precision Agriculture and UAS Research Center.

“The donation of two drones to our programme will allow us to provide outstanding hands-on experience to our students.”