A low-cost, robust solar-powered quadcopter which converts into a fixed-wing configuration after take-off could provide farmers with a valuable tool for precision agriculture. Rather than paying for surveys by manned aircraft, farmers will be able to use the 4-kilo SUAV:Q to give them a real-time view of their fields. Being solar powered, it can fly all day, and its designed to carry a hyperspectral camera — the sort currently used to monitor crop health, able to detect ‘water stress” when irritation is needed, need for fertisiler, or the presence of pest damage.
Ultimately, the developers hope that swarms of the small, cheap drones will work together to provide large-area coverage.
Read more in my piece in New Scientist magazine here.