Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2017

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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43 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 slathering their f ields with nitrates, herbicides and pesticides—whether they need to or not— farmers can now deploy UAS to determine where they need to spray, Poss said. "The theory is that unmanned aerial systems, UAS, can increase yields and cut costs by providing improved crop prescriptions, which is based on very frequent, highly-accurate imagery that we f lat out haven't had available until today," Poss said. "We've done some experiments with precision agriculture and the imagery required for it largely with space based systems, which just don't have the resolution, or with manned aircraft systems, which are just too expensive to take images frequently." UAS also can be deployed for crop dusting, Poss said, eliminating the need for a pilot to take out a manned aircraft—which is a pretty dangerous job. The UAS collects this imagery via a variety of sen- sors, including electro optical, infrared, hyperspec- tral and LiDAR. The imagery collected must be processed, Poss said, which is one of the biggest challenges to ef- fectively incorporating the technology. You can't just give farmers hundreds of images and expect that to be useful. They need actionable data fairly quickly, usually in less than 24 hours. The farmers also need to be open to investing in the proper equipment, Poss said, and many aren't right now. The industry has low margins, and it doesn't cost them that much more to spray an en- tire field versus targeting specific sections, so UAS manufacturers and service providers have to make deploying drones worth their time. Gebre-Egziabher recently worked on a proj- ect that looked at using UAS to manage soy bean aphids. Aphids are minute pests that suck sap from plants and cause extensive damage to crops. Typically, someone scouts the field looking for evi- dence of infestation, which can take quite a while. Once an infestation is found, pesticide is applied uniformly. The problem is, this creates unnecessary runoff and might kill other species that are natural aphid predators. With data from a UAS, farmers can pinpoint exactly where the spray needs to go and where it doesn't. THE PANELISTS Mel Torrie, Founder and CEO Autonomous Solutions, Inc. Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, Aerospace Engineer and Mechanics Faculty University of Minnesota James Poss, Maj Gen (ret), USAF CEO, ISR Ideas Benjamin Schilling, Director NovAtel Inc WHAT ATTENDEES WANTED TO KNOW Participants had the chance to ask questions during the webinar. Here are a few of those questions: • With all the advances in satellite imagery we're seeing today, do we still need drone imagery? • How long do you think it's going to be before the FAA approves BVLOS operations? • How can you tell if your autonomous vehicle is being jammed? • When you talk about making autonomous ground vehicles, can you do it just with GPS or do you need other sensors? • Do you see partial autonomy as a use case or is full autonomy the only way to go? Is there a midway point? • How long does it take to process raw image data? • What about robotic collaboration between aerial and ground vehicles? • Why is it so hard to build RTK receivers for small UAS? TO WATCH THE FULL WEBINAR, GO TO https://attendee. " Demoz Gebre-Egziabher, director, Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, University of Minnesota THE ABILITY TO INCREASE ACCURACY ON LOW COST NAVIGATION SOLUTIONS USED IN SMALL UAS IS GOING TO BE A KEY CHALLENGE FOR PRECISION AG."

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