Unusual crop drone design flies fast and long

By Kasey Worst

The Food Fix is giving snapshots of how five companies recently pitched their ideas at the Mid Michigan Innovation Center’s 2016 Agriculture Tech Forum in Bay City, Mich.

Today: A new drone design

Sky Flight Robotics helps farmers identify problem areas in their fields with a new drone design.

David Herald, one of the developers of the Manta Ray System drone, said it combines GPS and aerial photographs.  It is unique because it operates with two fixed wings instead of helicopter-style rotor blades, he said. That lets it gather more data in less time and withstand higher winds than previous models.

“It flies 50 acres in 30 minutes,” he said.

The Fremont, Michigan, based company also develops the programs that allow the drones to accumulate large amounts of useful data and provide it quickly.

“We can go out to your field,  fly your field, get you multispectral images down to the inch of your crops and report that data back to you within 24 hours,” Herald said.

The company does not interpret the data.

“The key with this is that we can give you the crop yield plus GPS data of your fields so you can see where the fields are deficient.”

The company is trying to raise $250,000 to hire a salesperson, increase marketing and allow for online shopping.

Tomorrow: Gene patenting


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