DJI has launched an intelligent, crop-dusting drone. The DJI Agras MG-1 is an octocopter designed to make the job of arable farmers a great deal easier.
The agricultural UAV can carry up to 10 kilos of herbicide, pesticide or fertiliser and is capable of spraying between 4,000 and 6,000 square metres in just 10 minutes, which translates into 7-10 acres an hour.
[caption id="attachment_3662" align="aligncenter" width="555"] The DJI Agras MG-1 crop-dusting drone[/caption]
DJI say the aircraft has an advanced flight controller, a reliable cooling system, a foldable frame-design, a large tank and a powerful propulsion system, and a dedicated remote controller specifically designed for the needs of users within the agricultural industry. The spraying nozzles are positioned below the two pairs of props on the side of the drone. The height above the crops is controlled by a microwave radar. They say it's 40 times more efficient than manual spraying. It will be capable of flying at 8 metres per second or 18 mph.
[caption id="attachment_3665" align="aligncenter" width="586"] Airflow through the Agras MG-1 motors[/caption]
The drone has a dust, moisture and corrosion proof design. It sucks filtered air into the body which houses the electronics and then pumps it along the arms and out through the motors, keeping them cool, clean and dry.
[caption id="attachment_3661" align="aligncenter" width="545"] A folded Agras MG-1, its tank and control panel[/caption]
The Agras would almost certainly be pre-programmed with data gathered in an earlier survey flight by another drone. This means the sprayer would only target plants that need treating.
There have been reports of crop-dusting drone trials in China for some time so it's interesting to see that an aircraft has made its way to the market. However DJI are only launching it initially in China and Korea and the retail price, according the Wall Street Journal, will be in the region of $15,000.
The UAV will be restricted by battery life and payload so maybe there will be a limited size of farms it will be best suited to. This could have a big impact in the UK's arable farming areas although there could be environmental concerns about the safety of this spraying system compared to current methods.
We're expecting more information on the Agras MG-1 soon but, in the meantime, let us know what you think of it.
You need a drone license when you are flying as a commercial drone pilot, ie when you are using your drone for work and money-making purposes. This means, in most cases, you will need to sit the FAA Part 107 test.
You do not need a drone license when you are flying as a hobby and for purely recreational purposes. However, you will need to operate by strict rules. There are plans to introduce the requirement for hobbyists to pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test.