American Robotics, a drone developer specializing in agricultural automation, has unveiled unveiled its flagship product, the Scout, a self-charging, self-managing drone system capable of autonomously carrying out daily scouting missions.
American Robotics in their release state that “By 2050, the world population is expected to grow to 10 billion. As a result farmers will need to increase food production by 70%. This issue, coupled with a reduction in arable land and the shrinking number of farmers across the globe, will require new tools to increase automation and efficiency in agriculture.”
The solution may enable some future agriculture remain outdoors rather than move it indoors. There are a number of significant technology firms looking at indoor agriculture techniques (PBS NewsHour story here). While drone technology cannot address the issues of water and climate control, it can provide in depth crop analysis and the intelligence needed for efficient use of resources.
As AR notes, traditional scouting techniques, including first-generation and consumer drones, are inadequate at detecting plant stress early enough to offset the billions of dollars of lost yields. These methods are often time-consuming, complicated, and uneconomical. To improve agricultural decision-making, optimize inputs, and maximize yields, automation must be delivered in a reliable industrial solution.
Scout delivers this automation in a turn-key package consisting of an autonomous drone with visual and multispectral cameras and a weatherproof drone station which handles housing, charging, data processing and data transfer. Once installed within a farmer’s field, it requires no manual intervention to plan, fly and manage the drone operations. Health reports and analysis are seamlessly sent to the farmer. The system has already been deployed in a range of agricultural locations across the United States this summer.
American Robotics is headquartered in MassRobotics in Boston, an emerging hub for robotics startups.
“The technology behind Scout was developed after working with farmers and ag professionals to understand the unique logistical and economic challenges they face. As a result, Scout is the first practical, industrial drone system that truly addresses the needs of this industry. Full-automation is a key ingredient in the future of precision farming, and we’re eager and excited to finally deliver this capability to our customers.”
Reese Mozer, Co-Founder and CEO of American Robotics said this about the launch:
The potential for Scout to advance precision agriculture is immense. One of the most frequent questions I receive is, ‘When am I going to be able to buy a drone that can just fly my whole farm without me being there?’ Because so much time and cost is needed just to operate a drone, growers and agronomists are unlikely to utilize it more than once a month, if at all. This prevents them from getting imagery data at a frequency and resolution necessary for effective crop scouting.