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AeroVironment Looks to Advance Drones In Ag With University Collaboration Project

AeroVironment wants to improve the future of farming by using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced analytics. As part of the 2019 Quantix & AV DSS University Collaboration Project, the company is working to achieve that. The project will focus on advance academic research, applications, and crop production practices.

More than 90 Quantix hybrid drone and AV DSS ecosystems have been donated to the agricultural departments of 35 universities including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cornell University, North Dakota State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and University of Louisiana-Monroe.

The universities participating will employ AeroVironment’s Quantix hybrid drone and AV DSS data analytics platform in a variety of in-field trials, application usage studies, and precision agriculture systems research covering areas such as crop nutrient and input management; artificial intelligence for detecting weeds, pests, and diseases; and improved accuracy of crop yield prediction. The hands-on experiences, along with use-case insights that can improve in-field performance and advance the adoption of drone-based technologies, will be shared.

“Working with industry leaders such as AeroVironment allows our program to stay on the forefront of the UAS field. The donation of two drones to our program will allow us to provide outstanding hands-on experience to our students,” says Paul Karlowitz, director of operations, University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Precision Agriculture and UAS Research Center.

Featuring automated precision flight operation and a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) hybrid design, Quantix is purpose-built for crop scouting. It can survey up to 400 acres in 45 minutes. During flight, integrated sensors capture high-resolution color and multispectral imagery via dual 18-megapixel cameras. On-board processing wirelessly transmits true color and NDVI imagery to the included operating tablet as soon as the drone lands. This feature gives farmers the ability to investigate issues while they are still in the field. 

For more detailed analysis, Quantix seamlessly integrates with AV DSS to perform advanced image processing and data analytics, including True Color, NDVI, GNDVI, canopy coverage, anomaly detection, and more. This information provides users with deeper insights into plant emergence, vegetative health, inputs, and resource management.

“AeroVironment’s donation of Quantix & AV DSS will enable participating universities to quickly and easily gain the on-demand field intelligence they need to advance multiple areas of agriculture research, while enhancing the understanding and application of drone-based technology,” says Rick Pedigo, vice president of business development at AeroVironment. “With on-demand access to high-resolution imagery and advanced data analytics, we’re preparing the latest generation of farmers to employ drone technology (Quantix & AV DSS) throughout their farming practices, improving crop production and farming efficiencies for years to come.”

“Working with the team at AeroVironment moved our drone-based agriculture research forward beyond what we could have done otherwise,” says professor Quirine Ketterings, Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program. “Ultimately, our goal is to develop accurate corn yield predictions based on in-season nitrogen applications to achieve an optimal economic return for the producer.”

Several participating universities will feature Quantix & AV DSS at upcoming agriculture and UAS learning events including:

• Purdue University – NACAA Forum, Sept. 8 to 12, 2019

• Ohio State University – Farm Science Review, Sept. 17 to19, 2019

For more information about Quantix & AV DSS, visit avdroneanalytics.com.

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