Weekly News Digest for September 7, 2014

An Akron startup, Event 38, is bringing drone technology down on the farm

Robert L Smith, September 7, 2014, Cleveland Sun


A start-up based out of Akron, Ohio is aiding farmers in crop reconnaissance with drone technology. Farmers on hundred acre plots of land see extreme difficulty in surveying all of their crops, often having unseen plants fall victim to plants, weeds, or lack of water. The company is headed by Jeff Taylor, a flying hobbyist who previously worked at SpaceX. The drones made by Taylor cost about $2,700 and can be controlled remotely from the back of an SUV. One farmer, Zack Ranta, used a drone with a thermal imaging camera to gauge the temperature of his plants, indicating which plants need more or less water. Taylor supplies drones to not only farmers, but also to organizations seeking to conduct remote land surveys and monitor illegal fishing. Taylor is waiting for the FAA to release their regulations on drone use.


Drone Developers Consider Obstacles That Cannot Be Flown Around

Conor Dougherty, September 1, 2014, New York Times


Though many are excited by the prospect of Amazon delivery via drone, significant obstacles must be overcome before drone use becomes widespread in the United States. Heavy drone use is still untested in urban areas, and commercial drone use is illegal as per FAA guidelines. Though companies such as Amazon and Google have to wait for official FAA regulations concerning drones, NASA has already begun attempting to solve the issue of heavy drone traffic. Researchers at NASA are developing an automated air traffic control system for drones, managing vehicles flying at around 400 to 500 feet. The air traffic control system could prevent possible drone collisions as well as maintaining no fly zones near hazardous regions such as airports. The FAA plans on releasing regulations for drone use some time this year. Both Google and Amazon continue to work on improving their capabilities of their drones.


Supplemental Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2eef3m/iama_17_yearold_farm_kid_from_southwest_kansas_i/