Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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40 unmanned systems inside   August/September ugust/Septe   August/September   August/September be   August/September 2016 0 2016 6 2016 AIR NEW APPLICATIONS P lanting trees is not easy work. Unlike spreading seeds in a freshly tilled acre of level farmland, forestland is hilly, sometimes inaccessible, and covered in things— rocks, shrubs, vines and other trees. That's why it's still, for the most part, done by hand. At least two companies are pursuing what they say is a better way: seeds distributed by UAS. A small, unmanned vehicle can go where human crews cannot and plant trees faster and better than humans. Portland, Ore.-based DroneSeed said it of- fers a full, "seed-to-tree" solution to timber companies, state forest services, and nonprofit organizations. It has a set of unmanned air- craft systems (UAS)—three-arm multi-rotor drones with proprietary elements—that map and analyze land to find the best places to plant trees. A UAS can fire "seed capsules" into the ground then come back and track the trees' growth. It even can spray herbicides to protect the seedlings from invasive species. Meanwhile, Oxford, UK-based BioCarbon Engineering, which recently announced a seed funding round from drone manufacturer Par- rot SA, is working on a similar platform. Details are scant and the company is operating in quiet mode for now, but a company representative did confirm that BioCarbon Engineering is in field trials and hopes to have more to share soon. Selective Seeding "When planting trees," said Lauren Kozak, DroneSeed's manager of public relations, "they send out people with shovels to do a thousand trees a day. It's dangerous and expensive work." by Rachel Kaufman "PEOPLE HAVE TO GET THROUGH the terrain; most of the time it is land that is covered in all kinds of stuff. That's a huge reason to send in drones." Lauren Kozak, manager of public relations, DroneSeed Photo courtesy of DroneSeed Seeding trees on the fly The other option is to drop thousands of seeds from a helicopter, basically shoveling them out the window, said Jim Warren, pub- lic and private forestry section chief at the Two firms are developing drones to plant trees in deforested areas and wildfire zones.

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