From university students to entrepreneurs to established UAV manufacturers, a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon to create these high-tech eyes in the sky for agriculture. This sampling of UAVs gives a look into the array of models that Farm Industry News has had the chance to see. Like many other technologies, there are many options available, but most of the manufacturers we spoke to claimed prices would decline in the future as long as increased demand couples with less restrictive federal regulations.
This gallery is part of Farm Industry News' cover story of its August 2013 issue, plus it includes additional exclusive images not seen in print. Check back for the full UAV story next week at Read the full cover story here .
1. Multirotor from Aerial Precision Ag
The Multirotor ready to fly kit comes with the system fully assembled, along with a stabilized GoPro3 camera, radio controller, batteries/charger, and a waterproof case. The company says the system is durable and while extra propellers are included in the kit, other parts can be easily replaced. Cost: $3,800. GPS and fully autonomous programming are available as add-ons to the basic fly kits. Demos and in-person training sessions are also available for a separate cost. Visit <a href="http://aparotor.com" target="_blank">aparotor.com</a>.</p>
Aerial Precision Ag was founded by Drew Janes, whose father ran a fertilizer prescription business and whose extended family farms in southeast Missouri. Janes’ background in both cinematography through Relentless Inc., a digital film company, and agriculture led him to create APA. Janes has worked on film projects for companies such as Case IH.</p>
2. Testing it out
The multirotor from Aerial Precision Ag is flown over a field for a test flight.
3. New model from APA
Aerial Precision Ag has since launched a new model, the APA X4, which is fully autonomous. The company debuted the system at this year's InfoAg conference in July in Springfield, Ill. The new model is priced at $5,000, minus the cost of the camera. Visit <a href="http://aparotor.com" target="_blank">aparotor.com</a>.
4. The AIMQ Quadcopter Series from DMZ Aerial
DMZ Aerial’s AIMQ, or Aerial Intelligence Modified Quadcopter, is sold in a package, which includes the UAV, the iPad flight app, the camera, a charging station, high performance batteries, a Wi-Fi extender, durable cases and a tracking system. The UAV is controlled manually by using an iPad. DMZ provides flight training, guidance on effective scouting and technical support. Cost is $2,900 for the entire system. The company is working on a more advanced, second-generation system, which will be priced at about $6,500. Visit <a href="http://dmzaerial.com" target="_blank">dmzaerial.com</a>.</p>
Mitchell Fiene, DMZ Aerial co-founder, has partnered with Dakota Precision Ag Center to develop the company’s UAV. Fiene is 19 years old and has sold over 20 units of the AIMQ so far. Fiene displayed his system at the 2013 UAS Action Summit in Grand Forks, N.D. this May.</p>
5. The Octane
The Octane multirotor system from Volt Aerial Robotics weighs 4 lbs. and takes high resolution, GPS-referenced imagery and video, which can be processed by the company or by the user, depending on customer needs. The company says the multirotor system is easier to fly than fixed-wing UAVs. Visit <a href="http://voltaerialrobotics.com" target="_blank">voltaerialrobotics.com</a>.
6. Octane in flight
The Octane is taken for a flight over a field. Cost of the Octane is approximately $10,000 depending on configurations. Rory Paul, Volt Aerial Robotics CEO, is also a small UAS consultant.
7. The Lancaster Hawkeye Mark III from Precision Hawk
This completely autonomous, fixed-wing system, weighing 3 lbs., can survey 300 acres in a 40-min. flight and allows for high-resolution imagery and video. Thermal and multispectral imagery is available depending on customer needs. On-board sensors adjust for weather variability. The user programs field information into the system prior to flight then throws it into the air. The system collects the requested data and returns on its own.
8. View from above
On-board Wi-Fi is also available on PrecisionHawk's Lancaster Hawkeye Mark III. The company can either process the imagery for a cost to the user or allow the user to purchase the imaging software themselves. Online data storage is also offered at a separate monthly cost to the user. Pricing for the entire system varies widely based on customer requests. Visit <a href="http://precisionhawk.com" target="_blank">precisionhawk.com</a>.</p>
9. LP960 from Lehmann
The LP960 from Lehmann Aviation is used for detecting damaged crops by taking aerial images with a thermal camera and can be flown in harsh environments, between -13 degrees F up to 140 degrees. The system can monitor moisture levels and damage from pests or disease. The kit includes OperationCenter software, which runs under Widows7. The user uses this software to program the drone and geo-tag images.
10. Lehmann kit
Image processing can then be done by the user or by Lehman at an extra cost, but the company says it is simple for users to learn to interpret and process the images themselves. While the company is based in France, it distributes its UAVs throughout the world, including in the U.S. Cost is about $9,330 USD. Visit <a href="http://lehmannaviation.com" target="_blank">lehmannaviation.com</a>.