Many enthusiasts love drone photography and Amazon is developing drone delivery service. At the same time, some startups are combining toy drones with special sensors and cameras and smartphones to create innovative business services in agriculture.
In France, Delair-Tech, a 50-staff startup based in Toulouse is researching a drone to enable farmers to monitor crops for diseases, assess yield and identity where fertilizer is needed. This service is based on a subscription, and the Economist reported that it plans to charge 15 Euros per hectare.
In Chile, researchers are developing drones with special cameras that can allow farmers to monitor the condition of their crops from their smartphones. By analyzing the data captured by camera using spectral analysis, farmers can monitor moisture content, ground water, plant health, and pest infestation as well as growth rate of the plant. (See Figure.) This way, farmers can localize water and pest control, saving water and improving yield.
Besides farmers, animals can benefit from drones as well. Across Africa and Asia, an illegal trade worth $7 to $10 billion annually is threatening the survivals of elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, etc. Due to vast space, there is no effective way for conservation groups and governments to police the poachers and protect the animals. However, drones can help: they can collect and send data to law-enforcement units, who can then intervene if poachers are threatening animals. (See Figure.) Google just offered $5 million to support World Wildlife Fund to expand its conservation-drone program in Africa and Asia. Hopefully, these flying drones can be the guardian angels protecting these animals from harm’s way.