Aerial Technology International (ATI) announced it is expanding its line of sensor options for the ATI AgBOT with introduction of the Raptor Module. Aimed at providing farmers with an affordable aerial robotic solution for bird control, the Raptor Module emits sonic patterns mimicking various birds of prey.
ATI has been working closely with farmers in Oregon's Willamette Valley to asses any unmet needs that small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) can provide solutions. Bird control is vital for protecting vineyards and other high value crops but has been traditionally difficult to manage in a safe and humane way. Nuisance birds learn patterns quickly rendering ground based emitters ineffective after just a short time. Falconers often have time constraints and are not always a cost effective solution.
"By alternating preset flight patterns above valuable crops and mimicking a number of different predatory birds, we believe the Raptor Module will prove its effectiveness and worth in the 2016 growing season," said ATI CEO, Stephen Burtt. Birds have the ability to eat up to their body weight in food every day and in certain circumstances can cause up to a 50% crop loss.
Based in WIlsonville, Oregon, ATI is located at a hub of agriculture and technology. Its flagship multirotor, the ATI AgBOT‚Ñ¢, was initially designed for agricultural NDVI mapping using the MicaSense RedEdge. With its success in 2015, ATI is working towards making the AgBOT‚Ñ¢ a true multi-use tool by offering modular payloads for a variety of farm specific applications including infrared/thermal, hi definition visual inspection, and multispectral analysis.
A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report estimates that drones used for precision agriculture may generate $82 billion in economic activity between now and 2025. Burtt says that "consumer based drones have sparked interest from the ag markets, but due to mass production and limited capabilities, we are really staring to see the industry demand professional grade unmanned aircraft that are application specific".