Drones improving Australian agriculture

Here's an excellent (unhyped) story from ABC's Landline (Aus) about how precision agriculture is being enabled by new data collected with drones.



It features:

  • Sydney University's Centre for Field Robotics
  • Autonomous ground robot collecting video, 3D imagery and soil conductivity
  • Hexacopter with downward camera for top down view
  • Correlating flower density with crop yield
  • Weed detection and eradication
  • Locust swarm modelling and control
  • Cattle herding using kinect style sensors
  • Yamaha's RMAX UAV helicopter for crop dusting 
  • Regulatory limitations (line of sight)
  • Tangible benefits to farmers (early nutrition adjustment, forward selling)

It's an important counter point to the recent controversy where animal liberation activists filmed a chicken farm with a drone and claimed it wasn't meeting it's free-range claims - the farmer had a different perspective. This has now resulted in a powerful lobby group requesting tight laws on spy drones - something that will effect us all.

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  • I saw the Landline episode with the Animal Liberation drone when it aired (video link in the OP). It really annoyed me at the time that even though the interviewee Mark Pearson was a federal senate candidate (the election was less than a week away), he didn't have the balls to say anything to that farmer. Even though I am a greenie/vegetarian, I am relieved he was unsuccessful.

  • Excellent story, thank you ABC.

    Yeah, there is some serious capital at work in those fields but, I guess, the work that will be able to be carried out based on the models generated from the datasets they are compiling will no doubt be worth billions within a few years.

    She might be old enough to be my mum, but I reckon Pip Courtney is a looka!

  • It was good that they did a positive report, after the extremely negative report previously on the animal rights groups spying on farmers. Unfortunately most people only know about the animal rights group story.

    Also the music at start of this is hilarious/aweful

  • Holy cow - that ground vehicle! A 3D LIDAR, a 2D LIDAR, an enormous cooled hyperspectral camera, a 2D Radar, DGPS, full autonomy and data blending and object tracking and avoidance. That is a hell of a (expensive) monster! And they have multiples! Thanks for the post!

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