A bunch of Oregon researchers have started to run tests on a bunch of drones in the field of agricultural use. Once you take a look at them, they might be enough to interest the inner radio-control geek in you – after all, we are talking about a six-rotor helicopter that revs to life, going straight up and rising quickly above the thousands of potted trees at J. Frank Schmidt & Son Nursery. The whole idea of this exercise? To count the number of trees that are available – and not counting ordinary people and zapping them with some sort of vaporizing laser.
Measuring around three feet across with a bunch of spindly legs, it does resemble a flying spider of sorts without bringing a toy-like air to it. Sophisticated GPS technology will be integrated into the drone, where it will send it over to pre-programmed points while maintaining a constant altitude of 25 meters, which translates to a wee bit higher than 80 feet. Its abdomen will hold a digital camera, while a swiveling housing ensures the camera remains level even if the craft pitches in the wind.
All aerial images will be downloaded to a sotware that identifies and counts the potted trees. Since Oregon’s nurseries do raise up to millions of trees and bushes for landscaping, it makes perfect sense for critical inventory control, and making counts by hand have proved to be labor-intensive, time consuming and expensive.
It will cost somewhere in the region of $10,000 each, so no worries about anyone purchasing this “just for fun”.
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