UAVs: Idiot-Proof Or Idiot Proof

For what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) dominated much of the conversation at this summer’s agricultural industry trade shows. At virtually every event being held the past few months, exhibitors were alternately flying UAVs near their booths, showing videos extolling the virtues of these products for agriculture, or both. In addition, UAVs once again figured prominently in PrecisionAg magazine’s annual ranking of the Top 5 Precision Ag Technologies.

And the level of excitement to see among those that make their living in agriculture is something to behold. For those individuals that fall within the Generation X and Millennials age groups, UAVs seem another in a long line of technological steps agriculture needs to take to remain on path to its stated goal of feeding a world population of more than nine billion souls by the middle of this century. For those in the Baby Boom generation and those born before the end of World War II, UAVs are another tool that can improve upon and speed up the time-tested techniques for helping grower-customers find out what conditions are in their fields. What’s more, folks of all ages seem to really like the fact that UAVs are simple to operate. In other words, they are seen as “idiot-proof,” kind of like automatic steering in farm equipment.

“UAVs promise to be something of a revolution for precision agriculture,” said Carl Bartenhagen, national accounts manager for FarmChem at an early autumn association meeting. “I love the fact that someone operating one could scout an entire field from the air in a matter of minutes and determine such variables as where crop diseases might be present and what soil conditions are like. In fact, I bet there are some ways UAVs could be used in agriculture that haven’t even been thought of just yet. But some bright young kid is going to figure it out pretty quickly I’m sure.”

But I foresee one very big problem with UAVs and their use in agriculture — they are too popular with some of the wrong kinds of users. For the past few years, unlicensed “hobby” UAV operators have been flying these technological marvels into the wrong places. For some months now, commercial airline pilots flying into some of the nation’s busiest and largest airports on the East Coast have reported near misses with UAVs straying into their flight paths. Out on the West Coast, firefighters battling some of the region’s worst wildfires with airplanes and helicopters were forced to ground their efforts when one UAV with a camera appeared on the scene. One hobby UAV operator — an engineering student in college — decided to film his model sporting a loaded firearm (which was shown shooting off a few rounds). He ended up being investigated by several branches of the federal government to see if using a UAV in this manner violated any laws.

In my book, these folks would all fall under the heading of “idiot proof” when it comes to UAV use. Unfor­tunate­ly, it will only take one reckless UAV operator ramming their vehicle into a commercial plane, residence or crowded sports arena (causing injuries) to ruin the potential this technology can bring to many businesses for everyone.

Some of my colleagues have argued with me that a few bad apples operating UAVs won’t spoil the entire marketplace. But I’m not so sure. One of the most frequent set of videos I run across these days shows animals attacking (and destroying) UAVs. Each of these has thousands of views on Websites such as YouTube.

This proves to me that although new technology always holds promise, some people just can’t wait for it to fail miserably — and gleefully document this failure along the way.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “UAVs: Idiot-Proof Or Idiot Proof

Data Management Stories
Soil testing
Data ManagementOpinion: Soil Testing Needs Sensors To Get More Accurate
February 17, 2017
We are entering a very exciting time in agriculture. With so many great software platforms and data collection tools we Read More
Data ManagementJANZEN LAW BLOG: Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms at Center of America’s First Ag Data Case
February 14, 2017
A number of poultry growers have filed suit against Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, and other poultry integrators alleging that growers’ Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Data ManagementField to Market Announces New Metrics Platform Integrations
February 9, 2017
Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture today announced a comprehensive integration between the sustainability metrics and algorithms of Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership Between AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Will Create Single Source Reference Data API
January 18, 2017
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference Read More
Trending Articles
Connected Farm Scout Trimble Agriculture - featured image
Decision Support Software17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture
February 6, 2017
There are dozens of easy-to-use mobile apps that are ideal for every day field scouting tasks. From record keeping and Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Innovation SeriesPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 25, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
Latest News
Professor Simon Blackmore
Ag Tech GlobalUK Professor: Name Change Needed For ‘Precision A…
February 24, 2017
‘Accurate farming’ would be more apt than ‘precision agriculture’ to describe this agricultural practice, says professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Read More
EventsInnovation Series 2017 Quick Thoughts: Gaining Ground
February 23, 2017
If you’ve been following past coverage of our PrecisionAg® Media Innovation Series events, this column is going to sound a Read More
UNL Researchers
ProfessionalsPrecision Agriculture Makes Farming More Sustainable, P…
February 23, 2017
Farmers have numerous sources of technology and data available to use in their operations, but many producers struggle with what Read More
Ag Tech GlobalSciFi in Ag: What do North Dakota, Peru, and Mars Have …
February 23, 2017
In early 2016, I was lucky enough to hike the Salkantay Mountain range in Peru. It’s about a 50 mile Read More
Sentera drone
DronesPrecision Ag Professionals Will Find Advice, Applicatio…
February 22, 2017
The upcoming ASCEND Conference & Expo will deliver practical information about using drones to improve processes in precision agriculture. ASCEND Read More
Case IH - AFS AccuStar and UAV Offering - Magnum MX210 AccuStar Receiver
DronesCase IH Adds New GPS Solution, UAV Package To AFS Offer…
February 21, 2017
Driven by the growing demand for efficient data management, the latest Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) solutions from Case IH help Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Systems ManagementBayer Enters Farm Recommendations Arena With Yara Colla…
February 20, 2017
Crop protection and ag biotech giant Bayer and fertilizer producer Yara International ASA have entered into a software collaboration and Read More
Hort TechGrowingProduce.com: Smart Vineyards Set to Revolutioniz…
February 17, 2017
Phil Asmundson is by no means a veteran viticulturist, but a half-dozen years ago, after watching his wife and business Read More
Soil testing
Data ManagementOpinion: Soil Testing Needs Sensors To Get More Accurat…
February 17, 2017
We are entering a very exciting time in agriculture. With so many great software platforms and data collection tools we Read More
Australian Harvest
Decision Support SoftwareGarden City Co-op Added as MZB Regional Mapping Center;…
February 17, 2017
Garden City Co-op (GCC), through a retailer agreement, has been using MZB Technologies as their precision ag platform for a Read More
DronesLand O’Lakes Drone Challenge Crowdsourcing Compet…
February 17, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. is calling on innovators from the tech industry to enter the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge, a Read More
DronesDrone Startup Hits VC Jackpot: Skyward Acquired by Veri…
February 16, 2017
Building on its strategy to drive innovation and adoption for IoT services in high-growth markets, Verizon today announced that it Read More
GuidanceCase IH Launches AccuTurn Automated Headland-Turning Te…
February 15, 2017
New AccuTurn automated headland-turning technology from Case IH takes the guesswork out of turning on headlands, which gives you improved Read More
ProfessionalsDeere Details New Connect Mobile App, C850 Air Cart
February 15, 2017
To help growers monitor, adjust and learn from the performance of their planter or sprayer while it moves through the Read More
drones, UAVs, DJI, Aerial Imagery
DronesNDVI Imagery Under $5K? Sentera Outfitting DJI Phantom …
February 15, 2017
Sentera today announced its ability to convert a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone into a precision scouting tool that collects Read More
Wheat sunrise
Systems ManagementNew Holland Announces New Product Launches
February 15, 2017
New Holland Agriculture expands its product offering with the introduction of three Precision Land Management technologies, PLM Drone Data Management, Read More
Data ManagementJANZEN LAW BLOG: Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms at Center of…
February 14, 2017
A number of poultry growers have filed suit against Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, and other poultry integrators alleging that growers’ Read More
Southern States grower in cab
Innovation SeriesPrecision Agriculture: A Place For Everyone At The Tabl…
February 13, 2017
Over the last 30 days, I’ve been immersed in all things precision agriculture. If you received your personal copy of Read More