UAVs 2016: Picking Key Partners, New Sensor

Bret Chilcott, AgEagle
AgEagle founder Bret Chilcott demonstrates the company’s UAV during the 2015 InfoAg preshow tour near St. Louis, MO.

One of the biggest pieces of news to break in the precision agriculture drone world recently was that of Raven Industries’ exclusive distribution partnership with Neodesha, KS-based fixed wing platform manufacturer AgEagle.

Under the agreement, Raven dealers will have already begun the process of implementing the AgEagle into product offerings for the 2016 season by the time this article reaches your farm office.

I caught up with a couple familiar faces at the 2016 Commodity Classic in New Orleans, LA, back in early March — AgEagle Owner Bret Chilcott and Raven Director of Business Development Paul Welbig — to go over details on the freshly formed alliance. As someone who considers himself pretty clued in on the AgEagle system and its capabilities, I wanted to find out what Chilcott felt Raven could bring to his system to add value for the end user.

“The other thing that Raven will bring to our customers and potential customers (besides distribution) is the professional training that they have; the training center that they have in Sioux Falls, SD, and then also their technical support through the regional managers and their dealers is another big thing,” said Chilcott. “To that point, because they are worldwide and they have significant distribution south of the equator, it will help us balance out our production as well.”

According to Welbig, for Raven it came down to more than just Chilcott’s friendly Midwestern demeanor — although that part did help, he joked.

“As great as a guy Bret is and the company that he’s built, I would say that Raven has been, probably like a lot of others, paying attention to the UAV industry, and because there were so many different options we were waiting for the right fit, honestly,” he said. “Where we could add the most value with the partner that could add the most value?

“I think probably a real core piece of AgEagle that drew us together was they’re focused on agriculture, period,” he explained. “They understood what it takes to make this really work in ag — it has to be simple to operate, you have to get the data that is actionable in real time — a lot of the companies that we were looking at do a whole lot of things, they’ve got some great platforms and great aircraft, but they may struggle with image processing. Or their system may just be too complicated for ag service providers to utilize. For us it was about being focused on ag, and AgEagle built a platform that enables that and can fit right into our ecosystem, and it provides our customers with relevant information that can provide a return.”

How the AgEagle fits into Raven’s product ecosystem is another question I had for the Raven-AgEagle braintrust.

“Through our API interfaces, our partnership with SST, all this data flow — the workflow if you will, becomes very seamless and automated to the point that it will be very easy to take the data collection from AgEagle and put it into the Raven field computer to apply whatever product that is going to be necessary to treat the field,” said Welbig. “So a lot of those pieces have already been put in place and this is starting to be the realization of all these things we all talk about that can actually be put into practice now. And that loop can happen within the same day, versus waiting days or weeks to process the data.”

“To repeat Matt Waits from SST — who I think said it so accurately, he said: ‘technology becomes productive when it gets boring,’” Chilcott added. “And so when UAVs first came out a lot of folks bought them just because it’s cool. That wore off real quick, so now it’s boring. Now the customers are asking ‘what’s it going to do for me, where’s my return on investment?’ And that’s where the tie in with Raven comes in. It provides ROI [return-on-investment], especially with the data flow through SST and the Raven Slingshot system and control centers.”

Sweet Sensor

Parrot, the French parent company of senseFLY (manufacturers of the eBee Ag UAV), recently released details on its newest sensor payload for the precision ag set. Again, this was a pretty big piece of news for the industry, as I hope to firmly spell out in the coming paragraphs.

Sequoia Multispectral Sensor
The new Sequoia multi-band sensor by Parrot.

Sequoia is the Paris-based aviation giant’s newest multispectral mini-sensor. It was engineered specifically to fit into the same mount virtually all drones (both multi-rotor and fixed wing) carry for GoPro cameras.

Sequoia records imagery data in four spectral bands (green, red, red-edge, and near infrared) and includes a 16 MP RGB camera as well — basically five cameras in one.

According to Parrot’s Yannick Levy, Director of Business Development, the company designed the sensor to make its adoption among agriculture users as streamlined as possible.

“Drones today have been designed to carry GoPro cameras so we wanted to make sure our multispectral fit in that size, so that was very key for us,” explains Levy. “We also wanted to use the most standard interfaces for consumer electronics — this is why the sensor has USB connection for both power and data transfer.”

Sequoia allows direct imagery download via USB port, or users can connect the sensor to a mobile Wi-Fi network and send images directly to MicaSense’s ATLAS, a cloud-based processing and analytics platform for data captured with Sequoia. Sequoia owners who order the sensor through MicaSense receive a one-year subscription to ATLAS Plus.

But easily the most noteworthy aspect of Sequoia has to be its luminosity sensor (referred to by Parrot as a “sunshine” sensor).

“Multispectral sensors measure light reflected by the crops in very precise frequencies, and depending on cloud cover and even the time of the day, the sunlight has a different intensity in the various frequencies,” Levy notes. “In the morning the sun may be a little bit redder, and around noon it’s going to be more blue.

“So if you want to use the sensor precisely and you want to know exactly how much light is reflected by the crop in each frequency, you need to know how much light is coming from the sun,” he continues. “So the sensor measures what comes from the sun, looking up, over the same frequencies as the sensor looking down at the crops.”

As many that have used UAV-flown multispectral sensors can tell you, the ability for this sunshine sensor to actually deliver on these claims would save a ton of time on the post-flight image processing side of things.

And last but certainly not least, Se­quoia carries a very reasonable MSRP of $3,500, making it the most affordable multispectral option we’ve seen hit the market. For comparison, the Airinov-developed multiSPEC 4C sensor that works with senseFLY’s eBee Ag drone was recently listed online at one vendor for $13,125.

“We wanted to be aggressive on the pricing, again, to make it as easy as possible for farmers to be able to start with the sensor,” Levy says.

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Equipment Stories
BusinessSentera Joins Forces With Another Drone Distributor
September 13, 2016
Sentera has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Dynamic UAV Solutions North America, LLC, a new distributor in the commercial Read More
eBee SQ Drone
EquipmentsenseFly Launches High Precision, Large Coverage eBee SQ Drone
August 31, 2016
Swiss professional drone manufacturer, senseFly, expanded its portfolio today with the launch of the new eBee SQ fixed-wing agricultural drone. Read More
Automonous Tractor
EquipmentAutonomous Solutions, CNH Industrial Unveil Concept Autonomous Tractors
August 30, 2016
Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) and CNH Industrial have announced the unveiling of concept autonomous tractors. ASI is CNH Industrial’s technology Read More
John Deere ExactApply
EquipmentJohn Deere Introduces ExactApply Nozzle Control For Sprayers
August 30, 2016
Producers and ag service providers can gain greater accuracy over their spray applications with John Deere ExactApply intelligent nozzle control Read More
Trending Articles
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
Robotics AGCO Fendt Guide Connect
Market ImpactReport: Ag Robots And Drones May Be A $10 Billion Market By 2022
September 7, 2016
Robots and drones have begun to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. In fact, the IDTechEx Research report on Agricultural Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
BusinessMZB Technologies, Climate FieldView Announce Data Integration for 2017 Season
September 6, 2016
MZB Technologies announces a data connectivity agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., providing increased precision agriculture Read More
Deere R4023 cab
BusinessReport: Smart Agriculture Market Worth $19 Billion By 2021
September 6, 2016
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Smart Agriculture Market – With Forecast (2016-2021)” report to their offering. Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
IntegratorsThe Top 10 People In Precision Agriculture
August 15, 2016
Precision agriculture — with all its wacky technologies and advanced algorithms and such — remains a people business. So, without Read More
Ag Drone
Technology10 Bold Predictions For Precision Agriculture
August 11, 2016
The future of technology in agriculture has never looked brighter, or more confusing than it does in 2016. We at Read More
Latest News
BusinessADAPT Conversion Toolkit Making In Roads With Equipment…
September 22, 2016
A leading group of equipment manufacturers will soon release products that greatly enhance a grower’s ability to manage data across Read More
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Educati…
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge Awarded $6.1M Investment From Sustainable …
September 21, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has announced that it will receive $6,107,563 Read More
BusinessGMO Aphids to Battle Weeds? It’s Not as Far Fetch…
September 21, 2016
No, I am not talking about optimizing aphids for a global agricultural armageddon. That would be silly. I’m talking about Read More
Young Corn Field
Best PracticesNitrogen: The Key to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
September 20, 2016
Precision ag can play a key role in reducing agriculture’s impact on greenhouse gases by limiting the nitrogen rate. Read More
W. Wade Robey, Raven
Industry NewsRaven Adds New Director Of Engineering
September 19, 2016
W. Wade Robey, Ph.D., joined Raven Applied Technology in August 2016 as Director of Engineering. In this role, he leads Read More
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
BusinessOPINION: Climate Corp. is the Jewel in Bayer’s Monsanto…
September 15, 2016
PERSPECTIVE: Over the next few days and weeks in the ag media space the major players will examine this latest Read More
Sugarcane India
Market ImpactPlantations International Brings Precision Farming Tech…
September 14, 2016
Hong Kong-based plantation and farm management company Plantations International has announced it is moving its contact centre from the Indian Read More
Corn close up
Start-UpsLewis & Clark Ventures Raises $20 Million For Agric…
September 13, 2016
Lewis & Clark Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Series A and B stage investments, has announced $20 million Read More
BusinessSentera Joins Forces With Another Drone Distributor
September 13, 2016
Sentera has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Dynamic UAV Solutions North America, LLC, a new distributor in the commercial Read More
New Zealand agriculture
Market ImpactPrecision Ag Technology Helping New Zealand Agriculture…
September 12, 2016
New Zealand has an enormous opportunity to use technology as a means to support the economic growth of its agri Read More
Robotics AGCO Fendt Guide Connect
Market ImpactReport: Ag Robots And Drones May Be A $10 Billion Marke…
September 7, 2016
Robots and drones have begun to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. In fact, the IDTechEx Research report on Agricultural Read More
EventsPrecisionAg Vision Conference: Find Your Future in Phoe…
September 7, 2016
As the summer winds down and harvest begins in earnest, the time for immersing ourselves in future planning is getting Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
BusinessMZB Technologies, Climate FieldView Announce Data Integ…
September 6, 2016
MZB Technologies announces a data connectivity agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., providing increased precision agriculture Read More
DigiFarm
Start-UpsDigiFarm Puts The Precision In Precision Agriculture
September 6, 2016
While the general public adjusts to the idea of self-driving cars, in the agricultural world it’s old hat, writes Joe Read More
Craige Mackenzie
GrowersAgribusiness: Efficiency Through Precision Farming
September 6, 2016
Craige MacKenzie travelled recently to St Louis, MO, to receive the award of Precision Agriculture Farmer of the Year from Read More
RainWise AgroMET IP-100 Internet Package
DataRainWise Spotlights Importance Of Agricultural Weather …
September 6, 2016
RainWise, Inc. believes monitoring weather data can assist farmers in making smarter decisions on the farm, especially with planting, harvesting, Read More