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AeroVironment Advances Research on New Quantix Drone

In November 2016, AeroVironment launched the Quantix drone and Decision Support System. Available this spring, these technologies will help growers gain insight into crop health to improve farming efficiencies and profitability.

Quantix features a simple, automated flight with an operator-in-the-loop and a unique, hybrid design that allows the craft to launch vertically then transition into horizontal flight, maximizing aerodynamic efficiency and range. Quantix collects RGB and NDVI multispectral images that can be viewed immediately after each flight and then uploaded, processed, and stored securely in the cloud. Growers can view the images on either a mobile device or desktop computer. 

At the heart of this solution is the company’s Decision Support System (DSS). AV DSS uses advanced research and algorithms to produce high-resolution datasets and analysis of fields. It has easy-to-use mobile interfaces with secure cloud-based data storage. The platform will feature a mobile app that allows growers to collect and record infield observations. Growers are notified instantly of any anomalies in the field.

“Quantix can automatically scan hundreds of acres per flight and alert growers to anomalies via smart text messages while the AV DSS securely stores the data and provides an intuitive platform for deeper image analysis,” says Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment chief executive and president.

Ongoing Pilot Program

To guide development of the Quantix drone and AV DSS platform, AeroVironment has been working with ag universities and farmers in a pilot program, which is entering its third year.

“Our extensive work with early-adopter agriculture customers continues to inform the architecture for our Quantix drone and AeroVironment Decision Support System,” says Jon Self, vice president of commercial information solutions at AeroVironment. “The pilot program allows us to learn how to integrate drone technology into the way growers operate, and it’s helping us develop some very specific analytics. Our results and experiences from working with multiple crops is guiding our design to give farmers an intuitive solution that is the first of its kind in the marketplace.”

The projects, which repeatedly surveyed tens of thousands of acres over the past two years, focused on various crops including almonds, walnuts, corn, grapes, sugar beets, strawberries, and tomatoes to test analytics that identify canopy cover, early disease detection, and yield prediction capabilities.

A variety of sensors, including photogrammetry, multispectral, and LiDAR, were employed to develop highly precise (1-inch resolution) topographical maps for water management, to develop flow diagrams that examine drainage, erosion, runoff, and tile line designs within a field.

The program will continue into 2017, and will be expanded to include surveys of row crops, specialty crops, and permanent crops.

Recent Collaborations

The company recently announced it has begun a year-long study with California State University, Fresno, to research how UAV imagery and analytics could potentially detect varying levels of water stress in almond trees and give producers smarter insights to make more effective in-season decisions about water management.

A similar study is also being conducted with North Dakota State University to help enable the early detection of three key diseases in sugar beets. Findings could help sugar beet growers identify infected plants before symptoms are visible to the naked eye – saving time and production costs while increasing yield.

Learn more about Quantix with AV DSS at avinc.com.

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