HAWKEYE have released their latest UAV designed for the agriculture market post successful trials in New Zealand.  The RQ-84Z series UAV is a laminar flow UAV designed for photogrammetry payloads and now carries TWO Sony Nex-5 series cameras with specialist lenses both imaging simultaneously for NDVI capture.  This adaptation, along with other design improvements such as RTK GPS have improved overall efficiency for agricultural market acquisition.  The ease of launch, parachute recovery,  integration with ArcGIS and robust Kevlar construction provide a commercial grade solution for Agribusiness.  Impending upgrades include  a 40 megapixel sensor upgrade in early 2014.

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  • Can I also add that there is definitely a place for below 2kg technology which we see as very valid GIS grade imaging.  We like the sensefly technology in particular.  I also endorse the sentiments here in pricing and we regularly compete in the longer endurance survey grade market with gear 5 times our price.  We manufacture these commercially and we can tell you how hard it is to do this, people forget real costs of R&D, Staff tooling, admin, sustaining training staff, documentation.  Also  If you are selling to the first world where you need to engage aviation authorities professionally then you have to get this right and it is difficult. As an Indication of the advances we have made here,  we have privileges from the NZCAA to fly over built up areas - Cities.  Those sort of privileges don't fall from trees.  Currently we have clients in Mongolia, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Dubai, NZ, AbuDabi and South Africa.  They are all just getting on with it and it refreshing to see.  When the Airspace issues are sorted in the USA you will find very quickly that the smaller UAS are not viable for some markets and also struggle to do survey grade acquisition.  In 5 years in this industry the key is lighting conditions and lenses.

  • Use the contact us form on our website and Ill fire through the pricelist. for complete system we have many config ranging $55-65K  Post processing also varies depending on what you require to do - Mining volumetric , classifying .LAs etc.

  • Rowland, I took a look at the specs on the RQ84z, and it is impressive. If the $80K price tag was untrue, can you give us an idea of the actual cost of the system. We have vehicles, people, phones etc. How much to add a Hawkeye to the fleet?
  • Who said the Hawkeye is 80K?  Can we raise our prices?  Arguably if you are doing this as a business - which is what this technology is for (professional grade),  then you need to look at about 150-200k to set up.  Consider Vehicle, phone, website,  GPS control gear can set you back a bit, VHF radio, field generators -let alone staff. There are a huge amount of hidden costs.  Also this technology is made in NZ and used all around the world except USA.  When you need to fly in order to invoice to survive you want certain things in your gear- as much area at 400 feet as possible in one flight, simplicity and robustness of operation. We are also looking at supporting farmers around the world who don't just do cropping in flat areas.  We have been doing this for 5 years commercially in NZ and around the world and we have successful customers who are making a living on this technology.
    In 2014 we are  bringing into the agricultural industry something out of left field that we found works from another industry we service very well.  This cant be done with the quality of sensors carried most low end UAS.
    Lenmark makes some good point and we have sold the co-registering - latency issue. (great technology btw).
    With regards to weather window the RQ84z is 5kg with a reflex wing enabling very high stability in turbulent conditions- Our window is far higher than the systems mentioned here.

  • Great points Gary and Deon.. The one about flying NOW is good. You can only cover so much ground so having more than one lower priced unit would be better as you only have a narrow window in which to fly (10-2pm) and even narrower based on weather conditions.
  • Gary, I like your vision!

    The regulators will have to face reality at some point. It may not happen without some serious growing pains, but it is hard to imagine that the obvious need for this technology in agriculture will not weigh heavily on the regulatory process. Many of us are starting to make noise, and it is not going to stop until we have a system that makes more sense than the regulatory mess we have now.
  • Moderator

    Has ASTM F-38 published a single standard yet? If you went to the FAA office that gave Boeing and AeroVironment golden tickets with a European certified or your own system would they be OK with it? What standards would they expect STANAG 4586 etc??? It blows my mind that the community over there is not hammering AUVSI for allowing its two big payers through the gate and not shouting for the rest of the membership. 

    One day there will be a thing in a big plastic box that is chucked into the back of a pick up that a builder or farmer will use and not give a fig about how it works or why, but if it will get the job done quick so he can get back to the pub.

    Once we hit that toolbox point there will be mass adoption. Oh and when post production is much easier as well.

  • Let me ascend the soapbox for a minute:

    If the FAA only makes $300K systems legal, then the whole enterprise will remain restricted to the few, and much of the potential will be lost.

    The Hawkeye looks like a great system BUT, $80K for an agricultural drone is only going to tempt those who have money to burn. In my opinion, if you have $80K to spend on an agricultural system, you should rather buy a couple of proven fixed wing designs and multirotors. And a series of color-infrared cameras, including light weight p&s and heavier, interchangeable lens models. That would give you the flexibility to apply the technology in a variety of agricultural situations, and give you the redundancy needed to keep going when it counts.

    When you visit the shops of those who are doing this successfully beyond the "proof of concept" stage, you will see a fleet of aircraft, because when you need to fly today, you need to fly TODAY. And, when (not if) you have a hard landing, you are not grounded, and replacing damaged components should not cost an arm and a leg.

    BTW, we have been using a fleet of APM-equipped Zephyrs, week in and week out, for two growing seasons, landing in the rough on most flights, and they are showing no signs of quitting. There are other good, affordable airframes too, the important thing is to use something that flies well, and is robust. It is a tool.
  • Moderator

    Its about reliability and then the next point will be for all these platforms, have they the appropriate paperwork from regulatory authorities. I am sure that is a very nice aeroplane, you still couldn't operate it legally in the USA at the minute its not been signed off. The ones that have cost $300,000 a go. 

    If it get's the job done as advertised with little fuss it would be worth every cent of its ticket price. When I tried to run a reliability round for the T3 we did not have a single entry. 

  • 80k?   you can get a SenseFly eBee for $29k, and a Trimble UX5 in the $45k and a AgEagle in the < $20k category..  So 80k is a really expensive way to get a sensor up in the air.. the same sensor anyone can buy and mount on their wing.   Sure there is probably some nice polish but regardless that is a expensive package for not a apparent advantage..  I know that the eBee can now fly in swarm.. so you can use multiple units to get better/faster coverage which is important in agriculture as atmospheric changes can greatly effect that quality of your data.   So for the price you would be better off getting two eBees and flying them in tandem.

    Lets just assume this aircraft lasts 5 years operation wise... that's a operational cost of $2700/month of the growing season to operate.  That's a lot of savings it would have to generate in order just to pay for it operationally, which may just not be there.

    The other problematic item is flying multiple cameras and co-registering the data in post processing... which is in a lot of ways is highly problematic and time consuming.   You are better off flying a single camera with a NIR band.. such as some of the MaxMax NIR/G/B cameras.

    It really comes down to the most effective way to get a sensor up in the air.. the other stuff is just polish on the experience... sure there are some things the factor in the quality of the image but I don't think this plane takes any better pictures than say a Zephyr II which is $200ish.

    Not sure how a 40MP camera helps all that much especially if you have a limited ceiling in which to fly.. like here in the states at 120m/400feet.

    I am the creator of AgPixel and we have spent a lot of time trying to fully understand the technologies and produce a product that doesn't just make pretty picture but tries to understand the imagery into actionable intelligence.  In the next couple months there will be massive updates coming to address many of the challenges that come with high resolution remote sensing.   There is a lot of exciting things that can be done in agriculture remote sensing.. and we will soon have very good ideas on the value add of this technology.. and if a 80k plane can be cost justified over say a 2k plane... but like I said it is all about getting a sensor up in the air and capturing the data.. how you go about doing that vastly differs... clearly.

    Data Collection and Processing Services - AgPixel
    A provider of image processing for use in aerial mapping products and agricultural services.
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