Just in time for the holiday ag drone shopping season (lol) Parrot — the French drone manufacturer most known for its Bebop line of consumer-focused birds — has announced the availability of its newest and first-of-its-kind ag-focused drone, the aptly named Parrot Bluegrass.
According to Parrot, Bluegrass is the first Parrot quadcopter designed specifically for agriculture. It features both RGB and the Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensors onboard, as well as flight planning software with the popular Pix4DCapture mobile app, and at the back-end it includes cloud-based post flight data processing with the powerful Airinov First+ platform.
Chris Roberts, chief sales and marketing officer with Parrot, has been with the drone manufacturer for 12 years now, getting his start in the industry around the same time as the birth of drone technology. He says the main takeaway for ag service providers looking at deploying a multispectral sensing drone for 2018 growing season with its agronomists is the platform’s overall usability and flexibility.
“You’ve got the Sequoia multispectral sensor — which is one of the best multispecs in the industry — already embedded in the fuselage, and we put everything in the kit: three batteries, the flight control module,” Roberts explains. “We wanted to make this type of aerial imaging very quick and easy to do, for the professional to have in the toolbox for directed scouting and mid-season crop health scans.”
As anyone who’s tried to integrate a Sequoia sensor into a 3DR Solo or one of the cheap Phantom DJI platforms can attest, having that Sequoia already embedded in the bird is a huge benefit for speedy deployment and ease-of-use.
However, it must be noted that Bluegrass’ flight time could perhaps leave the professional user wanting more. Bluegrass claims a 25 minute flight time per battery, and coverage of about 30 hectares per battery charge when flying at about 70 meters.
“It’s more about integrating everything (the agronomist needs from the platform) from start to finish, putting everything into the product,” Roberts answers when pressed on flight time. “We sought to make multispectral sensing very accessible, putting that advanced sensor on a good platform with good flight time. With Bluegrass and the thermal imaging capabilities we are also announcing with Bebop-Pro Thermal, we’re sitting on quite an ecosystem on what we can offer for business solutions.”
Post-processing of the multispectral images takes place through the AIRINOV First+ software, which Roberts says will deliver a “turn-key” plant health report within a few hours of image upload. Users have the flexibility to view that report as a .PDF, or import the data into Pix4D and use the various APIs that Pix4D boasts to send the maps to, for example, a John Deere tractor via Operations Center.
Data ownership within the Parrot product line remains user-centric, as well.
“There’s no intermediary (in our system), everything data-wise does back to the farmer, or whoever flew the mission, as far as ownership goes,” Roberts says. “Basically, the farmer, the cooperative, the agronomist, they’re always in control of the data and analysis is always done at their direction.”
Bluegrass is available for MSRP $5,000 in a package that includes the drone plus sensors, a flight controller, a backpack, three batteries, and a year subscription to AIRINOV FIRST+.