Parrot's multispectral crop monitoring sensor can be retrofitted to existing drones
Drones have certainly emerged as promising tools in agriculture, with several groups including MIT and DJI announcing crop-monitoring unmanned aircraft inside the last year. But what if you've already got a perfectly good drone capable of taking long, automated flights over your farmland? Parrot has just announced a sensor attachment that can be slapped on old drones to take infrared pictures and help farmers work out areas in need of attention.
Dubbed Sequoia, Parrot's new attachment is claimed to be compatible with all civil drones. Fitted with a 16-megapixel camera and multispectral sensor, the device records images of crops in four different spectral bands: green, red, red-edge and near infrared. The captures are stored on the 64 GB onboard memory and can then be converted into aerial maps through image processing software such as Pix4Dmapper Pro, Airinov or MicaSense.
The maps and data can then be translated by crop consultants or the software itself into practical recommendations. These might include identifying sections of a field that need special attention, picking up on nutrient deficiencies, observing where living organisms are causing damage and managing irrigation.
Also onboard Sequoia is a GPS and IMU unit, along with a separate luminosity sensor that records lighting conditions and calibrates the four multispectral sensors. This sensor also features an SD card slot for additional storage.
Sequoia will be launched in March 2016 with a recommended retail price of US$3,500.