When drones encounter animals they normally end up on the losing side. Just look at the eagles being trained to take down stray UAVs, or what happens when an antelope takes a disliking to being watched from above. The bottom line is that most of the time, drones and wildlife simply shouldn’t mix. It’s an accident waiting to happen. But sometimes an accident is called for, particularly in the case of the feared and destructive Asian hornet. Luckily Drone Volt has come up with a solution to combat the pest plaguing farmers across Europe…
For those of you that don’t know, Drone Volt is a France-based company specialising in coming up with unique drone solutions. The team provides specialist drones for a variety of industries, from construction to media and agriculture. Working in collaboration with a beekeeping expert, Drone Volt has developed the Spray Hornet, a drone designed to locate and destroy Asian hornet nests.
Controlling the spread of the Asian Hornet
Asian hornets originally came from China. By virtue of being pretty far up the food chain as far as flying insects are concerned, the species has gradually made its way across Europe and is now threatening many natural pollinators, including honey bees. The Asian Hornet can also be dangerous to humans,due to its highly toxic sting. At the moment, it’s present in about three-quarters of France, and farmers are concerned that it will cause untold damage to the ecosystem.
Drone Volt’s Solution
The solution? Destroying Asian hornet nests as and when they appear. But often that’s easier said than done. Finding nests in rural locations can be difficult, and destroying them, especially those high up in trees, can be even harder. Removing hornets nests often requires the use of ladders, hydraulic platforms, booms and other tools. This is time-consuming, expensive and often dangerous. That’s where Drone Volt’s newest creation comes in.
The Spray Hornet allows the operator to apply a lethal dose of spray onto the nest from the safety of the ground. Removing Hornets Nests is now safer, faster and much less expensive. The integrated HD camera provides the operator with a quick visual reference when approaching the nest, while the tilting aerosol jet permits optimum and highly targeted spraying. Operating in this way also allows the operator to work from a safe distance and eliminating the risk of attack by hornets defending their nest.
At the Forefront of UAV Solutions
So what has the reception been like to a solution that will surely be welcomed with open arms? Speaking exclusively to DroneLife, Daniel Roe, EVP of Sales and Marketing at Drone Volt USA, said “The reaction for Drone Volt Hornet has been fantastic, specifically in Europe where this particular pest is a big problem”, he said. “We make a few different configurations of Drone Volt Spray and some of these are already out in the market. The Spray is often used for crop fertilization as well as for pests but the spray can, and has also been used for ‘rooftop moss abatement’ too.”
And has this kind of thing been done before with drones? Probably not, said Roe: “The idea of a spray for a pest is something people have been talking about but we believe we are the first to execute. Beyond the Hornet, the spray applications could be for any outdoor pest including, we believe, mosquitos which are on everyone’s mind recently with the news of the Zika virus carried by mosquitos.”
I asked Daniel how Drone Volt goes about coming up with new solutions – whether they apply developing technology to current problems, or look to solve problems as they arise. He said, “Drone Volt can and has made Drones “to spec” but sometimes Drones are designed for a specific and obvious need, surveillance for example. Sometimes we will get questions about Drones and can they be used for a specific purpose, like 360 degree Virtual Reality content creation, and we explore those ideas as well. We just launched a Drone with a 10 camera (4K) configuration. We have a list of customers waiting to get a chance to experience this new drone for use with VR as well as high-end real estate “video tour” use.