Autonomous drone lives in a shed, down on the farm

Autonomous drone lives in a sh...
The Scout agriculture drone, about to take off from its Drone Station
The Scout agriculture drone, about to take off from its Drone Station
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The Scout agriculture drone, about to take off from its Drone Station
The Scout agriculture drone, about to take off from its Drone Station

Drones can be of great use to farmers, for doing aerial inspections of their crops. The fact is, though, flying the things back and forth over the fields can be both tricky and time-consuming. That's why Boston-based American Robotics created the Scout. It does everything autonomously, so users can reportedly just set it and forget it for an entire season.

The Scout itself is a quadcopter equipped with both visual and multispectral cameras, and it resides in an included weatherproof shelter known as the Drone Station. When it's time for it to make its daily crop-inspection flight, the roof of the shelter retracts, and the drone automatically takes to the air. It follows a schedule, although it can also be sent out on demand.

The route that it subsequently follows is preprogrammed when the system is initially set up.

Upon completion of the flight, the Scout lands itself back on the shelter, and is lowered inside. Its battery is then automatically juiced up for next time, while the drone uploads its gathered data to a cloud-based server. The farmer can then access that data on their computer, checking for crop stress.

According to the company, the system has already been implemented "in a range of agricultural locations" across the US.

You can see the Scout in action, in the video below.

Source: American Robotics


For several years I've been describing the need for a similar vehicle to be mounted on our Navy Frigates as well as shipping containers on cargo ships. Picture drones large enough to carry a dipping sonar or small anti submarine torpedo.They can be set to automatically run a set course pattern or if someone wishes to over ride the auto and fly it.
Dan Lewis
The opening roof mechanism looks a little iffy to me. I mean the two roof sections are going out to quite an extreme end. I wouldn't want to open the thing in high winds, but one wouldn't be using the drone in high winds either. I prefer a vertical clam shell system instead of sliding tracks.
So, it's only useful in fields that have wireless data access? I would think that something completely autonomous would data link to the station (either in flight or on return), and what the farmer did with the station data would be up to him. There's too many stories of security issues with cloud connected devices for me to think that cloud connected flying robots are a good idea.
Put solar panels on the roof and make it truly autonomous.