Are you ready for Volodrone?

An autonomous drone-based transportation start-up, Volocopter, has revealed agricultural giant John Deere as its first partner for its new VoloDrone industrial and commercial electrical vertical take-off and landing craft.

The plan is to produce a VoloDrone-based aerial crop-dusting system. VoloDrone, unveiled last month, is an 18-rotor, fully electric-powered system that can provide up to 30 minutes of flight time and carry 200kg. Able to operate autonomously along a pre-set flight path, or be piloted remotely, VoloDrone has shown enough potential for John Deere to come on board and equip the VoloDrone with a sprayer and tank array. This will enable it to dispense pesticides, liquid fertiliser and anti-frosting agents. In the future, both partners see potential for aerial seed sowing.

The question is, are we ready for it?

Drone technology, in theory, has numerous potential benefits that can be applied across the agro-forestry sector. But some are concerned about the potential hazards and realisable risks the technology poses. Are there enough safeguards in place to enable us to effectively mitigate against these risks? Perhaps a more fundamentally important question to pose is, do we know what these potential hazards and risks are? TIPWG is busy investigating the use of drones in forestry – watch this space.

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