Autonomous Crop Dusters Set to Fly Next Year
Autonomous Crop Dusters Launching next year
Agricultural products and services provider Wilbur-Ellis will begin flying Guardian Agriculture’s autonomous crop dusters next year following a multi-million dollar deal to provide electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles to its clients.
Wilbur-Ellis will supplement its existing fleet of airplanes and helicopters for use with four propellers. The drones are being regulated and Guardian expects them to be commercially available in 2023. It is already taking reservations for the SC1 systems, which start at $119,000 each.
“This is the first new aerospace technology that will have a significant impact on America’s farms,” said Mike Wilbur, CEO of Wilbur-Ellis Venture Capital. “We believe it will be useful and rapidly deployed, and look forward to working with Guardian Ag to introduce their technology to our customers and partners.”
Wilbur-Ellis is looking at deploying drones first in California’s Salinas Valley. The eVTOL units are well suited for areas that are difficult to spray, the company said.
Drones are fully electric and can carry hundreds of kilograms of cargo. Including charging and filling the tank, they can cover 40 hectares in an hour. The units are powered by four six-foot propellers and have a wingspan of 15 feet. Each system includes an aircraft and a ground station compressor.
The software offers in-flight monitoring, measurement and data collection and collects real-time data such as wind speed, temperature and obstacles. Pre-planned flight schedules, designated spray limits and spray rates reduce application errors by providing superior spray quality with reduced environmental and economic impact. , said Guardian Ag.
“Our autonomous systems provide highly accurate crop protection, enabling significant improvements in environmental protection, soil health and beneficial insect protection,” said Co-Founder and COO Jeff Sparks.
Cavallo Ventures was an early investor in Guardian Ag and partnered with the drone commercialization startup last year.