Volocopter builds a giant crop-spraying drone for John Deere
Having introduced a massive heavy-lift drone at the end of October, Volocopter is now looking to show what the aircraft can do through a new partnership with John Deere. The two have teamed up to put together a version customized for spraying crops, with plans to put it into the air over farmlands in the upcoming growing season.
Drones have a lot of potential when it comes to agriculture, with the ability to autonomously fly over farms to monitor the health of crops or spray them with chemicals. Already we’ve seen some smaller aircraft adapted for these purposes, but Volocopter and John Deere are looking to scale things up in a big way.
The Volodrone revealed last week is based heavily on the company’s all-electric Volocopter aircraft. It uses 18 rotors to lift payloads of up to 440 lb (200 kg) into the air, which can be affixed to its underbody through a variety of carrying mechanisms, including nets, slings and large containers.
Alternatively, you could rig up a large crop-spraying boom like the type towed by tractors or fixed to other agricultural aircraft. Volocopter does say the low altitude of its aircraft can allow it to cover larger areas, up to six hectares (15 ac) an hour, while the electric powertrain also makes it a more sustainable option than a small plane.
The flight time of the demonstrator drone is listed as 30 minutes and it can be flown remotely or designated a pre-programmed flight path to follow all on its own. Spraying crops appears to be the primary application for the aircraft, but Volocopter notes that its use could also extend to frost control and sowing seeds.
With the demonstrator drone now ready for its first flight, Volocopter and John Deere plan to start putting it through its paces over the coming months.