There are numerous commercial applications for drones and one industry in particular that is benefiting from the rapidly growing technology is agriculture. Farmers have been using drones with great results for some time now. Of course, the drone and the camera are merely tools, it is the software that ties it all together and makes it useful and beneficial to the farmer. One company that has been at the forefront of development in this area is DroneDeploy. As the top cloud software solution for commercial drone applications, they have just announced their latest release which will be of great benefit to farmers and growers.
Fieldscanner has just been released in a beta format and provides real-time drone mapping. The timing could not be better as it comes out just in time for the start of spring, the all-important growing season. The application will form part of DroneDeploy’s very popular iOS app. Fieldscanner will allow farmers to fly any DJI drone over their fields and create instant amps as they go. Valuable insights can be gained while the drone is still in the air.
The beta application will be made available, at no charge, to all DroneDeploy customers irrespective of where they purchased their initial solution. The only limitation is that is designed to work on DJI drones and works on iOS only.
This has been a need for farmers for some time and now, DroneDeploy has the solution. “Growers have been asking for real-time, in-field mapping for a long time, and we’re excited to be the first company to deliver a solution.” — Mike Winn, CEO of DroneDeploy
There are many benefits to instant, real-time field mapping. Farmers are under constant pressure to increase productivity and improve yields. At this time of year, the growing season, time is of the essence and constant, fast decisions have to made on an ongoing basis. Change happens quickly and the grower needs vital information to make the correct decisions in a timely manner. The cost of waiting for all the information or making incorrect decisions is high. This application will help farmers with decision making by giving them valuable crop scouting information instantly. This is something that used to take quite some time and could be quite a costly exercise.
There are a number of advantages to aerial images over a ground survey. Speed is obviously the main one but an aerial view also shows variability that is difficult to see on the ground with taller crops or large fields. Satellite images or waiting for an available airplane is costly and slow. It could take days during which time, changes are happening rapidly. Uploading and processing drones maps has, until now, taken hours. This new application will capture the field map, making it instantly available. This lets farmers make crucial crop management decisions without any delays and in a highly cost-effective manner. Fieldscan will also help to quickly identify areas that need a closer, hands-on inspection.
“Real-time data directly from your drone right to the tailgate of your truck while the drone is inflight — it’s so easy, anyone can use it,” said Chad Colby, General Manager at Central Illinois Ag, who helped test Fieldscanner before release. “Testing this product, I knew this was a game-changer. Fieldscanner just made a drone the ultimate scouting tool!”
Farmers have already benefited from drone maps and many having been successfully using them for some time. It has helped growers lower their costs and improve efficiencies, ultimately leading to higher yields. This new application providing a real-time view of their crops, the benefits are even greater.
Fieldscanner will help the farmer:
Measure weather impact on crops
Quickly identify threats from pests or weeds for quick action
Better management of nutrient application by fast, aerial monitoring of plant stress and growth progress
Time harvesting better for maximum results by monitoring dry-down
Head of Enterprise Marketing, Jan Gasparic had the following to say: “DroneDeploy has continuously pushed DJI’s aerial platforms to become part of the standard enterprise toolkit. Developed based on DJI’s software development kit, the DroneDeploy Fieldscanner software has the ability to provide instant, insightful and accurate data for better business decision making. This will also help enterprises save money, time and expand the use of UAVs across various commercial applications.”
DroneDeploy has also taken the remote areas into consideration and one of their big advantages is that the application can function independently of a data connection. It is designed to be used in the field and past problems of no or very slow data connectivity will no longer be an issue. Because Fieldscanner can function offline, lack of data will no longer be an issue.
The application makes use of the current DJI drone automatic flight planning that DroneDeploy already had in place. What they did was add local processing capabilities on both the mobile device as well as the drone. This produces an immediate low-resolution scanning on the go and eliminates the need to process the footage on a computer afterward.
If you require better quality after the flight, the low-res footage can be processed after flight to produce a full, high-resolution map as well as 3D images.
Without any additional processing, the farmer can immediately view and use the footage and information can be gathered in-field. The drone can be used to check on particular areas for ground truthing and variability spotting. If data connectivity is available, growers can pin photos and notes to the map as they go.
Jim Love, Beck’s Hybrids Light Robotics Manager explains further: “Time is in short supply on the farm, so when considering a new tool, the faster and easier, the better. With the ability to capture data in minutes, offline, with just a drone and a phone, Fieldscanner represents the missing link that will transform drones from useful tool, to a must-have for weekly crop scouting.”
Director of Global Precision Product Management with CNH Industrial, Joe Michaels added, “For our growers, time is one of the most valuable assets they control. Fieldscanner allows our customers to save time and improve their efficiency by enabling them to get more information without leaving the field.”
Development of the next the next generation of this new application is already underway. This will have additional features while being faster and producing better quality maps. Real-time drone mapping looks set to advance rapidly after this crucial development and DroneDeploy is well positioned to develop cutting-edge real-time mapping solutions for other commercial drone applications. Other companies are also working on similar applications and this advancement is sure to spur them on as well.
According to Jono Millin, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at DroneDeploy, “This is just the beginning. We already have exciting new improvements in the works to further unlock the potential of real-time mapping.”
Central Illinois Ag general manager, Chad Colby was one of the pre-release testers. He says the application provides “real-time data directly from your drone right to the tailgate of your truck while the drone is in flight.” Adding, “Testing this product, I knew this was a game-changer. Fieldscanner just made a drone the ultimate scouting tool.”
Clearly, this is an exciting step forward in drone and UAV real-time mapping and there is no doubt that this new technology will pave the way for even greater development and innovation in commercial drone applications.