In Georgia, unmanned aerial vehicles are already beginning to help agricultural producers and consultants gather invaluable information about their crops, leading to reduced cost and improved yields.
Led by the efforts of the Center of Innovation for Aerospace and the AUVSI-Atlanta Chapter, a delegation of companies and the Georgia Tech Research Institute created one of the most popular displays at this year’s Sunbelt Agricultural Expo. Companies participating include Flight Guardian, Guided Systems Technologies, and VSG-Unmanned.
“We’ve had a five year plan working with industry, academia, the FAA and others to prepare the way in Georgia for this new market, “ said Steve Justice, director of the Center of Innovation for Aerospace. “We believe that Georgia is well positioned to capitalize on this emerging industry and we’re doing our best to make sure that happens.”
With an annual economic impact of more than $75 billion, agribusiness is the state’s leading industry and as it’s believed that it is the largest potential market for unmanned systems. The national AUVSI predicts that the commercial operations of unmanned systems will create a $350 million impact and close to 2,000 jobs in Georgia alone over the first three years.
With their highly capable rotary wing vehicles, Stockbridge-based Guided Systems Technologies took to the skies showing off some live imagery to onlookers at a series of demonstrations over the three day expo. Guided Systems participated in a very successful research project the previous year at the Sunbelt Expo just a field or two away from the demonstration area.
Also participating in the live demonstration was VSG-Unmanned, sporting a very bright orange fixed wing vehicle that blazed through the autumn sky during the demonstrations which at its peak had upward to 75 attendees per session.
“Having UAV’s grouped together for an agricultural event will hopefully raise awareness of a rapidly growing technological industry among the agricultural community. If we can inform them and prepare them for unmanned technology in advance of its commercialization, then we should all be in a great position when that time comes. It also gives us an opportunity to collaborate with the agriculture community and learn about their demands.”
– Ben Worley, COO, VSG Unmanned
The level and definition of the imagery captured from these vehicles will do more than just give the farmer an “eye in the sky”. From water monitoring, to pest disease, and areas of poor crop health, the multi-spectral imagery from these vehicles can revolutionize the amount of inputs a farmer puts into his crops, reducing the amount of pesticides, water and other materials used on the farm.
“The Sunbelt Expo was a great place for our company to meet and talk to the agriculture community about our UAV services, hardware, and software. Sunbelt seems to be a unique crossroad where agriculture, technology, manufacturing, and commerce collide with productive business relationships and opportunities as an outcome,” said Jim Kelly, president of Flight Guardian.
With the recent announcement of Section 333 exemptions opening the door to commercial UAV operations, look for many more of these companies to enter the marketplace to service this robust industry.
For more information about the related unmanned systems projects the Centers of Innovation are involved with, visit the Center’s website at Aerospace.GeorgiaInnovation.org.