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July 17th, 2014
Unmanned Electric Aircraft Take Agriculture by Storm

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The DLG (German Agricultural Society) Field Days 2014, held recently at the DLG Crop Protection Center at Bernberg-Strenzfeld, Germany, showcased many new innovations in crop production for the German and other European producers present.

This year’s event had special emphasis on drones, notably quadcopters and other multicopters for spotting disease, underwatering and many other conditions plus some fixed wing versions. Interest in their deployment in agriculture has exploded in the last year. Smaller, lighter and easier to operate, they exhibit greater virtuosity with more types of sensor. Producers now deploy them after a few hours of practice, often simulated on the computer. Many systems were on display, with tools and information to use the technology to its fullest potential.

There are similarities with the USA, where university students, entrepreneurs and established UAV manufacturers create these high-tech eyes and sensors in the sky for agricultural use. Many technologies are available in both Europe and the USA, nearly all electric and with many variants. In the USA, most of the manufacturers promise that prices will decline in the future as long as increased demand goes hand in hand with less restrictive federal regulations.

For more read the IDTechEx report, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Electric UAVs 2014-2024 . It covers the whole gamut of fixed wing, airship, VTOL, quadcopter and other multicopter drones, amphibians/diving and robot bat, bird and fly. It concludes that thousands of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be deployed very soon for both civil and military missions.

New technologies will be seen in and on them, from smart skin to structural components and intelligent motors with integral gearing. For long range UAVs where batteries are inadequate and hybrid powertrains are necessary, there can still be silent take-off and landing.

Only electrics can give us new forms of UAV; intelligently swarming robot flies being just one example of new missions made possible by electric power in UAVs. Several of these have potential in farming in due course. There is a sister report on manned electric aircraft, hybrid and pure electric, called, Electric Aircraft 2014-2024: Trends, Projects, Forecasts.

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