Aerial Precision Ag, a manufacturer of agricultural unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), announced that it has been acquired by RoboFlight Systems Inc., a geo-referenced aerial data company that processes, analyzes, and manages multi-spectral aerial imagery data. RoboFlight Systems collects data from remote sensing UAS as well as their manned aircraft, satellites and any other aerial data collection platforms in order to provide their customers with actionable information in industries including agriculture, livestock, environmental, utility and insurance. Data includes true color imagery, near infrared, thermal, and LIDAR. Aerial Precision Ag will be the company’s division that is focused on the agriculture and livestock industries.
“When we began looking at the UAV marketplace and its 9,000 manufacturer companies, what we saw was that many lacked having three key characteristics we desired. A background and understanding of agriculture, product price points that aligned with ag producers’ budget and use, and team members that first and foremost wanted to truly make an impact for the good of the industry”, shared TJ Agresti, CEO of RoboFlight. “Through this acquisition, RoboFlight has the ability to capture imagery from five feet above crop canopy for millimeter resolution, up to heights of 500 miles depending on the customer’s needs.”
Customers with pending sales orders will not be impacted. Aerial Precision Ag will maintain its Tempe, Ariz., offices for R&D, holding flight training academy classes and manufacturing. The company has plans to move from its existing 1500 square foot facility to an 8000 square foot facility to accommodate significant growth. This facility will continue to produce multi-rotor and fixed wing platforms.
The Aerial Precision Ag acquisition coincides with RoboFlight’s additional acquisition of AgPixel, a leading software for precisely interpreting aerial imagery. Drew Janes, president of Aerial Precision Ag, explains “We were really the first company in the United States to show up to a farm show and provide producers a trusted channel for bringing affordable UAS’s to their operations. Soon after, we recognized that producers were starting to ask us for more scientific data and imagery that they could turn into quantifiable actions in order to unlock the technological capabilities of their existing implement machines including variable rate planting and spraying. We had a great working relationship with AgPixel and were directing many of our UAV customers to use the software. In late 2013, we began speaking with RoboFlight after an introduction through AgPixel.”
“This move allows us to fully capitalize on the tremendous growth in the market place. RoboFlight will be the first and only single source solution for a producer who is looking to use UAV’s to properly collect images temporality for a given crop, then rectify, analyze, prescribe and finally port into a prescription for their respective implement equipment”, said Phil Ellerbroek, RoboFlight’s director of global sales. “Producers can independently collect their own data or they have the option of having this step outsourced by our regional service provider network. The data has to properly reach the equipment, otherwise it is noise. Because our expanding dealer network consists primarily of local implement providers, it means that the producer will be sure that the data is properly delivered through existing trusted relationships who are familiar with the equipment they have in their fields on a daily basis, including planters, sprayers and monitors.”
RoboFlight offers hardware sales, hands-on UAS flight training and operation classes, data acquisition, processing and management through is growing dealership network which covers nearly a third of the United States geographically. Existing customers range from independent producers, cooperatives, and chemical and seed manufacturers. In the month of January 2014, RoboFlight contracted to service nearly 400,000 acres for the 2014 growing season. Its largest contracted customer farms just over 75,000 acres. Following months have seen similar amounts of additional contracted acres for 2014. Acres included a broad spectrum of more than 30 crop varieties from corn, to pumpkin, to potatoes.