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AeroVironment Launches Quantix Hybrid Drone And Decision Support System
As the leading supplier of military drones, AeroVironment has developed an expertise in creating purposeful technology.
“What we’ve learned through our years of work with drones is how to make them easy to use, how to make them reliable, and how to focus on the mission at hand,” says Jonah Teeter-Balin, director, AeroVironment sales and marketing. “With all of our expertise, we realized there was an opportunity to significantly enhance crop scouting in the ag space.”
For the past five years, the California-based company has made a concerted effort to understand the markets and technology for agriculture. This approach has allowed the company to develop a system that addresses the issues (it’s really hard to use, it doesn’t meet farmers’ needs, the uncertainty with what to do with the data) hampering adoption.
“There really needed to be a complete ecosystem provided to farmers. What we mean by that is you have to have a drone that makes it really easy to collect the data, it has to be easy to fly, it has to have a good-quality camera, and then you have to have an easy-to-use software that easily stitches together the images and runs all of the analytics to make it meaningful for the farmer,” he says.
Quantix Hybrid Drone
“Since we’ve been flying our own drones for years, we have used both quad and fixed wing,” says Teeter-Balin. “When we did our original pilot studies, we found that the quad was easy to control but it didn’t offer the coverage needed to really make it work.”
While the fixed wing could go the distance, they found its stability in windy conditions a bit of a challenge when trying to take high-quality images.
“We combined the best of both worlds with our Quantix drone, which has the ability to cover 400 acres per 45-minute flight,” he says. “Because it has four propellers, it is very stable in flight, but we limit it to 15-mph winds because we don’t believe you can take high-quality images above that.”
The Quantix takes off and lands like a multirotor. It has the range, reliability, and efficiency of a fixed wing. And its unique, hybrid design allows the aircraft to launch vertically and then transition to horizontal flight.
With the touch of a button, Quantix initiates a fully automated take off, flight, and landing.
“This eliminates the learning curve so first-time users can successfully operate the drone safely to collect meaningful data,” says Teeter-Balin.
The Quick Look maps allow you to instantly assess a field to identify potential issues before they start impacting yield.
Data is seamlessly integrated into the AeroVironment Decision Support System. This system automatically performs advanced image processing, analytics, and comparative and historical reporting to help you make quicker decisions.
Building A Dealer Network
The company is currently working on building its dealer network. While it doesn’t have coverage everywhere, it can support farmers directly.
“We recognize there is a high need for service and support in the field,” he says. “Dealers who have a tremendous understanding of new technology and are experienced with bringing new technology to farmers are the ones we want to work with to grow our network and to make sure we have coverage in the areas that need it.”
At present, the company is focused on corn and soybeans as well as specialty crops, like tree crops and grapes.
“We are applying our technology to really help farmers get a much better view of their farms in an unbiased way and allow them to make better decisions in-season as well as over time,” says Teeter-Balin.
The system sells for $16,500. After the first year, the renewal, which includes access to your historical data and access to the analytics platform, is about $3,000 per year. Learn more by visiting avdroneanalytics.com.