Look up! Pizza delivery. If the thought of pizza being dropped at your door step by an unmanned aerial vehicle sounds crazy, think again. It has already been done. Albeit a marketing stunt, Domino’s Pizza performed the first pizza delivery by drone as long as two years ago (watch the video, here).
But the technology also offers promise on a much grander scale. Recent news reports suggest drones could revolutionize the food supply chain, from scouting farms and applying pesticides to fighting global hunger.
Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, tells PBS Newshour: “Your imagination can go pretty wild in terms of what would be possible.”
In fact, pending government approval, agriculture could account for 80 percent of all commercial drones, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group. Drones already see widespread, but tightly controlled, use in port and border surveillance, environmental monitoring by NASA and NOAA, public safety, and university research.
Here are some areas of the food supply chain where we can expect to see drones in the not so distant future:
- Crop surveillance: Low-flying drones have a leg up on satellite technology both when it comes to speed and image resolution. Drones can help farmer count plants, measure their height, and investigate soil condition with ground-penetrating radar. The result: Improved productivity per square inch.
- Herding cattle: Drones are like modern-day cowboys. Cheaper than sending up an airplane to spot escaped cattle, drones have the ability to give farmers not only the location of the herd but also take the temperature of each animal by using thermal sensors. And if farmers want to apply insecticide or disturb pests, drones can do the job for them.
- Food transportation: Delivering pizza is small potatoes compared to the potential of transporting food by drone to remote areas in impoverished countries. Experts predict it could be a game changer in the fight against global hunger since the issue at hand often is not lack of food but supply chain obstacles (in addition to a host of other factors).
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com