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Friday, July 11, 2014

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Farm Magazines and other media have made a big deal over the use of unmanned aerial systems in agriculture over the past few years.  60 Minutes has even covered the topic.  A number of agriculture related media sponsored a Precision Aerial Agriculture Show at the Farm Progress site in Decatur yesterday.  The show had lots of vendors on hand.  Two buildings were used for lectures.  The program was well organized and informative. Chad Colby and other organizers did a good job

Below are some photos of some of the products on display.  This is not an endorsement of any particular product.  It is just to show examples of what is available.  I caught the end of a lecture by Trimble.  They have a $50000 system that they will not sell unless the buyer has legal permission to use it.  Hoverfly has a tethered product that is legal under current rules. The problem with Hoverfly is limited utility.

One of the interesting lectures was a discussion of legal issues by New York attorney Brendan Schulman.  FAA rules and court rulings are not always in agreement, and cases are moving through the courts.  FAA has rule clarifications open for comments. Deadline for comments is July 25.  The rule below would pretty much put Ag on hold till final rules are done in 2015. 

Agriculture and real estate are singled out.  In the past the thought has been that as long as no money exchanges hands, unmanned aerial systems could be used. The propo,sed rule changes that.

One thing I don't see mentioned is the movie industry.  Those guys use unmanned aerial systems to make money.  I guess they could film in foreign countries.  

A big part of utilizing UAS is photo analysis. Pix4D and Field of View caught my eye, but they seem expensive.  Trimble's system included flying ship and software.

The Decatur Aerocommanders  made the show possible by their presence.  They also had some interesting aircraft on display

                                     Flying wings are one of the genera used in agriculture

                                                 Multi-blade coptors are also popular

                        This aircraft is for aerial application.  Size and weight might be be a problem.

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