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UC Davis Investigates Using Helicopter Drones For Crop Dusting

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the robot-farmers dept.

Technology 77

cylonlover writes "Researchers at University of California, Davis, in cooperation with the Yamaha Motor Corporation, are testing UAV crop dusting on the Oakville Experimental Vineyard at the UC Oakville Station using a Yamaha RMax remote-controlled helicopter. The purpose is to study the adaptation of Japanese UAV crop dusting techniques for US agriculture, but not all the hurdles they face are technological."

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77 comments

All We Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096677)

Great! Now the CEO doesn't have to get out of his office, he can just have a robot crop-dust the cubes for him.

Re:All We Need (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096787)

Crop dusting? That's what my coworkers call it when you let out a great big nasty fart as quietly as you can while walking by somebody. Especially those raunchy farts that feel hot when they come out your ass and smell like rotten eggs with weekold roadkill that was left to sit in the sun.

The reactions to that are priceless! Course you gotta be a good sport when it's done to you. I mean, we can't be the only ones who do this.

Re:All We Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44098867)

I cleaned out a whole bookstore with one of those...

Hurdles... (2)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 10 months ago | (#44096689)

The non-technological hurdles are exactly what you'd expect - government regulations, air-traffic restrictions and (restrictions on) emergency landing procedures.

Doesn't really seem like a problem - except in california, where realistic, useful legislation rarely passes on a permanent basis.

Re:Hurdles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096737)

don't worry. If it does become law, there will be a voter referendum that will appeal to the low-information voter to make it impractical and that will pass.

Balls... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096741)

The biological balls are exactly what you'd expect - tasty when garnished with semen.
 
--Ethanol-Fueled

Re:Hurdles... (1)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 10 months ago | (#44096765)

Warning, drones may cause cancer in the State of California!

Doesn't everything cause cancer in the state of California?

Will they put little tags on the drones that must not be removed under threat of prosecution?

Regulations -- a poor substitute for commonsense.

Re:Hurdles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096859)

Warning, drones may cause cancer in the State of California!

Doesn't everything cause cancer in the state of California?

Will they put little tags on the drones that must not be removed under threat of prosecution?

Regulations -- a poor substitute for commonsense.

When will we all wake up and realize that STUPID PEOPLE GETTING THEMSELVES KILLED IS A GOOD THING!!

It would also mean not needing a gov't that has its fucking fingers in everything. Darwin Awards FTW!

Re:Hurdles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44100637)

When will we all wake up and realize that STUPID PEOPLE GETTING THEMSELVES KILLED IS A GOOD THING!! It would also mean not needing a gov't that has its fucking fingers in everything. Darwin Awards FTW!

You misunderstand evolution, you don't realize that most stupidity is environment rather than hereditary, and you don't realize that government regulations are the only thing preventing people from selling you methanol labeled as ethanol and that regulations keep Monsanto from making the air so toxic that you can't breathe, like it was before the EPA.

So if you're of the opinion that stupid people should die, then you should walk in front of that Darwin bus yourself, because son, you're not only a moron you have no empathy whatever.

Re:Hurdles... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44096795)

The non-technological hurdles are exactly what you'd expect - government regulations, air-traffic restrictions and (restrictions on) emergency landing procedures.

Doesn't really seem like a problem - except in california, where realistic, useful legislation rarely passes on a permanent basis.

Even if California is as wicked as you say, do you seriously suspect that proponents of some economically useful drone application wouldn't just seek changes at the federal level [uslegal.com] that would preempt whatever state regulations happened to annoy them?

The issue is presently somewhat unsettled(in part because the FAA is a bit jumpy about the safety of a bunch of glorified model aircraft running around without either a Serious airworthiness workup or a pilot whose continued non-splatteredness is directly dependent on the aircraft); but "If a state pisses you off, go to the feds, if the feds piss you off, go to the states" is a well-established lobbying strategy...

Re:Hurdles... (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 10 months ago | (#44096813)

Even if California is as wicked as you say, do you seriously suspect that proponents of some economically useful drone application wouldn't just seek changes at the federal level [uslegal.com] that would preempt whatever state regulations happened to annoy them?

Good question, why don't we ask the medical marijuana dispensary community how that works?

Re:Hurdles... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44097709)

Based on the continued harassment by the feds, even in the face of relatively strong local support, I'd say that the 'lobby the feds' strategy is working very well for team Law and Order. Based on the relative indifference of local cops to overt pot dealers, I'd say that the 'lobby the states' strategy is working very well for team decriminalization...

There isn't just one lobby at work, here.

hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#44096809)

hackers just wait for some to hijack one and crop dust over area loaded with people.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 10 months ago | (#44096909)

And then there will be fewer mosquitoes. They already do that in a lot of cities.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096985)

And then there will be fewer mosquitoes. They already do that in a lot of cities.

And if the drones are filled with mustard gas, there will be fewer people, too.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44100833)

But they would be Californians, so that may not be a bad thing.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 10 months ago | (#44098697)

True, the amount of people probably remains the same. Initially. Some of them may get seriously ill though. Poison remains poison, no matter how "smart" you sell it.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 10 months ago | (#44099723)

Poison remains poison, no matter how "smart" you sell it.

But the same things are not poisonous to all life-forms.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#44096965)

hackers just wait for some to hijack one and crop dust over area loaded with people.

They are not spraying DDT. Most modern pesticides (especially those used in aerial spraying) have little toxicity to humans. When there were protests about the safety of malathion used in aerial spraying to kill medflies in California, the governors chief-of-staff went on TV and drank a glass in front of the cameras [wikipedia.org].

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 10 months ago | (#44097187)

Never mind the actual safety or lack thereof; "But CHEMICALS!" from the droolers on the Left is the equivalent of "But BENGHAZI!" from the droolers on the Right.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1, Redundant)

jbburks (853501) | about 10 months ago | (#44097351)

Chemicals are dangerous. Especially DHMO. Thousands of people have DIED from it, but cities and towns keep pumping it out. Check out this site for more details: http://www.bandhmo.org/ [bandhmo.org]

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#44097227)

See, bureaucrats *are* good for something. You'd never have gotten one of the malathion producers to do such a thing!

Disclaimer - I make no claim that this statement is necessarily true; however, it would hardly be the first breathtakingly stupid grand gesture made by somebody who believed a deceptive PR campaign.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097447)

They are not spraying DDT.

There was also a promotional film around about the safety of DDT showing them hosing down kids at a public pool. But I guess it was not a big deal since they weren't pregnant at least.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (2)

Cwix (1671282) | about 10 months ago | (#44097513)

The chemical use was Malathion. It is not as safe as you claim. Emphasis added by me.

Malathion itself is of low toxicity; however, absorption or ingestion into the human body readily results in its metabolism to malaoxon, which is substantially more toxic.[16] In studies of the effects of long-term exposure to oral ingestion of malaoxon in rats, malaoxon has been shown to be 61 times more toxic than malathion.[16] It is cleared from the body quickly, in three to five days.[17] According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency there is currently no reliable information on adverse health effects of chronic exposure to malathion.[18] Acute exposure to extremely high levels of malathion will cause body-wide symptoms whose intensity will be dependent on the severity of exposure. Possible symptoms include skin and eye irritation, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, seizures and even death. Most symptoms tend to resolve within several weeks. Malathion present in untreated water is converted to malaoxon during the chlorination phase of water treatment, so malathion should not be used in waters that may be used as a source for drinking water, or any upstream waters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malathion [wikipedia.org]

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#44097735)

during the chlorination phase of water treatment,

But we only drink Kool-Aid around here. Who gives a shit about the drinking water?

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 10 months ago | (#44097745)

That's hilarious, I thought you were kidding. I remember an amusing publicity stunt in which a scientist pwned Ralph Nader by declaring that he would eat as much plutonium as Nader would consume caffeine, but this is the first time I've heard of someone actually putting their money where their mouth is.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44097813)

Historical reminder: DDT was not banned because of its human health effects. It is somewhat toxic, but no worse than a lot of other stuff we spray on crops today. It was banned because of its effects on other animals in the environment.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097989)

DDT has low toxicity to humans and just about anything else that is not an insect. Remember all of those movies of people being de-loused in WWII? That was DDT. The thin shell bird egg study was bad science. The birds in the study had almost no calcium in their diets. At the time of the ban being proposed, several scientists ate bowlfulls of DDT without showing any negative consequences. I remember watching them on TV. At the time I thought they were being foolish and I was in favor of the ban, as was just about anyone else that was required to read Silent Spring in school

We almost had malaria under control before the ban. How many people die or are crippled each year because of the ban?

DDT was overused. It killed all of the bugs in the area, not just those being targeted. Now I think that a complete ban is a bad idea. A more balanced approach is needed. In the meantime, enjoy your bedbugs.

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

anubi (640541) | about 10 months ago | (#44098877)

The metering system is mechanical, and if its gonna fail, its gonna fail whether or not a human is flying the thing...

We already have completely autonomous tractors on the farms... completely robotic - plowing, reaping, harvesting.

Oh, an autonomous tractor run amuck - oh! the horror! - but we do not hear of it because there are sufficient safeguards it doesn't happen.

So what's the big deal about a robotic crop duster?

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (1)

smithmc (451373) | about 9 months ago | (#44218435)

That guy died, twelve years later. COINCIDENCE???. (Probably, since he died of a sudden heart attack.)

Re:hackers just wait for some to hijack one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097149)

I hope you're trolling; otherwise, you're very stupid.

Re:Hurdles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44098933)

kind of like how they push recycling, then turn around and slam people with excessive fees for actually recycling, prompting them to just throw it all in the trash can anyway?

Re:Hurdles... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#44100545)

The non-technological hurdles are exactly what you'd expect - government regulations, air-traffic restrictions and (restrictions on) emergency landing procedures.

Given crop dusting is generally done 100' AGL, air traffic isn't as big a deal (you truck in the UAV - even regular crop dusters need a ground support vehicle, so you're having to drive there anyhow). Emergency landings generally you plop right down on the field. It's unmanned, so falling down is an option. You'll trample some crop, but the same happens when a regular Ag plane fails.

It's also likely to cause less traffic accidents - nothing's more startling than to have a plane suddenly fly low over the highway where it almost appears to want to collide with that semi. Helicopters being what they are don't need to fly beyond the end of the field.

Crop Dusting is expensive and dangerous (2)

avandesande (143899) | about 10 months ago | (#44096793)

This sounds like a decent application- using GPS this could be completely automated.

Monsanto loves crop dusters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097733)

Be aware that Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide is designed to exterminate all plant life except their GMO animal hybrids. It does this through its main component glyphosate [wikipedia.org] interfering with the shikimate pathway [wikipedia.org] present in all plant life, including the intestinal flora in your gut which is essential to human health and even survival.

Sure, flying just above ground level and jumping over water pipes and flying under power lines while crop dusting is fun and sexy ... but only if you avoid thinking about your role in the destruction of the biosphere.

There's a reason why we are currently living in the sixth [wikipedia.org] mass extinction of biodiversity [wikipedia.org]. The single biggest factor is herbicides and insecticides, because they are designed specifically for destruction of local biodiversity, which unfortunately spreads. Deforestation and CO2 and global warming and all that jazz are barely secondary causes.

And when biodiversity reaches its tipping point, the whole house of cards that is the biosphere collapses. In case what this means is not clear to those who don't follow the bio sciences, it means no more you.

Don't cheerlead crop dusting.

Re:Monsanto loves crop dusters (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44097865)

Wow, is that a specious argument. "You can spray RoundUp from a cropduster, and RoundUp is bad, therefore crop dusters are bad". By the same argument, I can use a car to do a drive-by shooting, therefore cars should be outlawed.

There are a thousand other things you can spray from an aircraft: pyrethrin insecticides, narrow-targeted herbicides, antifungal and insecticidal bacteria, insecticidal nematode eggs, and so on. Many of these practices meet organic standards.

Re:Monsanto loves crop dusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44098381)

Today's NY Times advocated that guns can be used in drive-by shootings, so guns should be banned.

Re:Monsanto loves crop dusters (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about 10 months ago | (#44098683)

Today's NY Times advocated that guns can be used in drive-by shootings, so guns should be banned.

Yes, clearly they should have advocated that cars should be banned, as the actual cause of the problem is the vehicles that are used to drive-by.

Re:Monsanto loves crop dusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44107159)

"You can spray RoundUp from a cropduster, and RoundUp is bad, therefore crop dusters are bad"

But did the grandparent make that argument? The post only mentioned crop dusters in two places: first the title which merely implies that crop dusters are good customers of Monsanto (which is undeniable because of the high volumes they spray); and second, after giving a concise summary of the harmful effects of glyphosate, advising not to cheerlead crop dusters.

This is far less universal than the argument which you are countering. For the grandparent's argument to have merit, it merely requires a significant proportion of crop dusters to be spreading glyphosate, and of that there is no doubt.

In addition, it's worth pointing out that all herbicides and pesticides are bad for the environment either directly or in runoff, even if they are not the catastrophic disaster that is RoundUp. The reasons for not cheering crop dusting are a lot broader than the narrow but important one mentioned in the post.

Re:Crop Dusting is expensive and dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44099263)

Crop dusting is dangerous?

Dusting! (0)

telchine (719345) | about 10 months ago | (#44096829)

I love th3e term "crop dusting". Whoever invented it deserves their spin-doctoring millions. When I think of "dusting". I think of my grandma using a mild feather duster to remove a bit of dust from her ornaments. I would never think of soaking a field with a few tons cancer-causing chemicals. Hooray for semantics!

Re:Dusting! (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 10 months ago | (#44096869)

Then blame the bakers, who have been dusting pastry with sugar probably since the middle ages.

Re:Dusting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44096875)

Warning: the post above this one was made by a retard and their post may cause cancer.

Re:Dusting! (2)

dan828 (753380) | about 10 months ago | (#44096883)

Yeah, except the term was coined a long time ago when the insecticide being applied was in powder form, hence the "dusting" name.

Re: Dusting! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097005)

So, what's it like being retarded?

Aerial application is known as "crop dusting" since the '20s when it was invented (first commercially offered by "Huff-Daland Dusters, Inc."). Inflation being what it is ($1M then = $1.3B now), I guarantee you nobody in the '20s would have been paid "spin-doctoring millions" for it, even if it were a clever phrase to fool the public and gain acceptance.

But of course, it was no such thing, for two reasons. First, it's not clever; it's just an obvious term for applying dust to crops. Do note that the verb "dust" in the sense "to sprinkle with dust" is attested from the 1590s, so even before aerial applications, farmers spoke of dusting their crops. Second, in the '20s, there was no need to fool the public, because we were early in the development of our modern "all chemicals, all the time" farming method, and the evidence simply wasn't there yet to show the harm it caused. The public was still optimistic about progress in theory and as applied in practice, or at worst dismissed it as "unnecessary" (not "harmful"), because they hadn't caught on to how progress was being paid for by everyone while disproportionately benefiting a select few. Dumping tons of chemicals on soil to increase productivity per acre? Bring it on!

Re: Dusting! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097025)

$1m en 1920 est $11.6m en 2013. Recherchez les faits avant que tu ecrivez, vous laide, odereux American fatso homme.

Re: Dusting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097483)

teh roflcopters, you win.

The "correct" figure by my estimation is actually $13 million (naturally it varies by what index one uses) hence a mere shift of two decimal points. I was checking to see how many fools will mod up any detailed rebuttal to a stupid troll without reading for the most obvious error; antitrolling (antitroll:troll::antihero:hero, think about it) if you will.

Re: Dusting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097751)

c'est la vie, prends mon drapeau blanc s'il vous plaît.

Re:Dusting! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 10 months ago | (#44097089)

You are the low information demographic we all complain about. Please do not vote.

Re:Dusting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097329)

So are you.

Re:Dusting! (0)

ScentCone (795499) | about 10 months ago | (#44097641)

Such snappy repartee! What a stunning display of intellect! Yay! You win the internet today. Coward.

Re:Dusting! (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#44097931)

I came across a few articles today that were "of interest to you". I read them, and inevitably, I scrolled to the comments.

Maybe I'm just intentionally naive, but some of the things people are willing to say to complete strangers online are absolutely appalling. I'm sure that I am as guilty as anyone at one point or another, but that's beside the point.

If anything, the Internet revolution that will be reflected upon in 100 years will be known as the time when we really began to discover the evils of the human soul.

Re:Dusting! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 10 months ago | (#44098959)

It is awful, you're right. Which is why I save vitriolic invective for people who - like the guy above I was responding to - deliberately spout toxic BS. People who do that need to be called on it.

Re:Dusting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44099417)

Next time bother to Google something before you waste all our time pointing out your stupidity.

Remote flatulence (1)

Cyfun (667564) | about 10 months ago | (#44096925)

We have all these amazing advances in technology, but all we ever want to use them for is surreptitiously farting on people. The world never changes.

Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097045)

Unfortunately for large operators such as airlines, GA is, for the most part, where you experienced pilots from. And airlines in many parts of the world are already experiencing massive pilot shortages.

That pool has already dwindled with the huge downturn in night freight and charter ops. The end of manned ag flying will just add to it.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44097887)

Meh. These drones still have pilots, they're just not on board the plane / helicopter. A lot of the skills will be transferrable, and for those that aren't, there are always simulators. Pilots trained on nothing but video screens may be missing some kinesthetic sense of the aircraft, but I'd argue that that's not very useful for modern fly-by-wire passenger jets in any case.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44098407)

Don't worry, a system that's more complex (all the hardware to remote the pilot from the aircraft) will be at the same time cheaper and safer. Let me ask it this way (and yes, I'm a UAV pilot).
If it's flying over your children, does it need to meet the safety requirements of modern aircraft?
If it's flying over you children, does it need to be operated by a specially trained operator?
If it's flying over your children, must it maintained by qualified mechanics?
If it's flying over your children, must the manufacturer ensure that all pieces and processes in the manufacture conform to safety regulations?
If it's allowed in the same airspace as you, as a passenger or pilot of an aircraft, must it be able to avoid colliding with you, given any credible single piece of equipment failing?

If yes, than it will bear all of the cost and complexity of manned aircraft, except perhaps the oxygen system. It will bear all of the training costs, regulatory costs, manufacturing costs, compliance costs and fuel costs of a manned aircraft. However, it'll be more complex, and with the operator remoted, than the last one (Sense and Avoid) will become very complex. "everything carries a transponder" is not an acceptable assumption, and assuming the pilot has a command link to the aircraft isn't an acceptable solution. All of the sudden, the Global Hawk costs $68 Million dollars for an aircraft very similar to bizjets that are in the $10M range, and the predators cost about $4M for an airplane that's very similar to Light sport aircraft that cost $150K. Oh yeah, neither of those can do the last one.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44098479)

Honestly, I don't buy into the "everything's coming up drones" hype for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Nobody's going to droneify a passenger jet, the safety calculus just doesn't work. But for aerial reconnaisance (police, traffic, news, search and rescue) with no cargo, the story changes. You can't make a useful manned aircraft that weighs less than half a ton or so, so you have to ask a new question:

If it's flying over your children, would you rather it weighed 2000 pounds or 2?

Safety's still an issue, of course, but I'd be willing to accept much less stringent safety requirements if the only consequence of a worst-case scenario crash was some bruising and a nasty cut that might need stitches.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44099031)

Safety's still an issue, of course, but I'd be willing to accept much less stringent safety requirements if the only consequence of a worst-case scenario crash was some bruising and a nasty cut that might need stitches.

Ask yourself what the result of being hit with a 2lb drone falling from 500 feet is, and then try this comment again.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44099439)

Ask yourself what the result of being hit with a 2lb drone falling from 500 feet is, and then try this comment again

It's got wings and propellers to lower its terminal velocity and spread out the impact, so it's going to hurt a lot less than a 2 pound rock. It'd probably hurt as much as getting hit by a falling red-tailed hawk [wikipedia.org], and we let those suckers fly around major cities without flight plans or a pilot's license.

But regardless, I stand by my point: a 2 pound drone will hurt a hell of a lot less than a 2000 lb helicopter.

Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44099455)

It's got wings and propellers to lower its terminal velocity and spread out the impact, so it's going to hurt a lot less than a 2 pound rock.

Oh, is that the bar? I try not to get hit with 1 or even 0.5 pound rocks from 500 or even 250 feet.

It'd probably hurt as much as getting hit by a falling red-tailed hawk,

Right, because the drone is flexible and covered in feathers. Wait, except it isn't.

But regardless, I stand by my point: a 2 pound drone will hurt a hell of a lot less than a 2000 lb helicopter.

I stand by my opinion that your point is irrelevant and fallacious as it is a false dichotomy.

aerial application is highly regulated (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 10 months ago | (#44097327)

In California, you have to complete a two year apprenticeship to become certified for aerial application.

This is not so much about flying an airplane (which presumably a commercially rated pilot can manage).

It is mostly about handling pesticides, etc. I have not looked but my understanding is that other states have similar requirements.

So even if UC Davis proves the concept, I doubt it relieves the operator of being state certified.

Re:aerial application is highly regulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097463)

It is not so simple to fly a plane a 2 - 5 meters above ground at relatively low speeds as to fly a plane 15+ meters above ground at higher speeds. So yes a good deal of the apprenticeship is learning how to deal with the low level, slower flying and the proper application of a pesticides, etc ( not all crop dusting is pesticide related)

Not all commercially rated pilots can manage crop dusting .... just like my crop dusting family members that could not manage to get multi-engine rated cargo certifications. Or my commercial jet rated cousin who still has not gotten rated to be a crop duster because he can't fly low, slow and in a proper application pattern.

The drones at UC Davis are already crop dusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44097507)

http://www.regroup.com/welcome/content/uploads/2012/10/UCDavis_pepperspray.jpg

Precision Agriculture (2)

johnsonfarms (2267650) | about 10 months ago | (#44097719)

I work for an Ag company in the Pacific Northwest and I can tell you that while there is a use for UAV technology in agriculture, it is not an end all replacement for spraying and other applications. It lacks the payload to be efficient with all farms, many are too large to be sprayed in total with such a small device. Also the article seems to vilify the tractorand current methods to a certain degree, when in fact precision agriculture [wikipedia.org] has helped implement gps, autosteer [wikipedia.org], and autoboom [youtube.com] technology (among many other things) into modern agriculture already and has drastically increased the precision with which we apply fertilizers and crop protectants. I also don't understand why we are wasting money on research for this particular device when it already has decades of use and data available, especially when looking at spray patterns from helicopters since those are already used for this application and have been for over sixty years. UAVs will be a great asset for mapping, collecting field data, and making applications to small crops, but it will just be another small tool, and is not the end all solution for precision ag.

Re:Precision Agriculture (2)

goodmanj (234846) | about 10 months ago | (#44097957)

I don't think the people in the article were claiming it was an end-all solution, or that it was particularly new. They're doing ag extension work in California wine country, where the fields are small, the profit margins are huge, and the crops are difficult to move through with ground-based machinery. Very different situation than what you're experiencing in the Northwest, I'm guessing, and probably ideal for a UAV.

Re:Precision Agriculture (1)

johnsonfarms (2267650) | about 10 months ago | (#44142143)

Small is a relative term, even many of the vineyards in California wine country are many hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of acres in scale. A device only capable of a payload for 10-20 acres of application is hardly efficient when most farms are to this larger scale. Here in the PNW we grow nearly every major US crop, and Washington in particular has become a front runner in American viticulture with many thousands of acres of vineyards. So the situation is not so different, in fact it is quite similar. The other issue you have when selling to small farmers is that they do not have the budget to add such a specialized machine. They already own the ground rigs necessary to maintain their crops (yes, even row crops, getting through a vineyard is a lot easier than you might think) and when equipment payments make up the majority of expenses (especially on small farms) it would make a difficult sell. Larger farms have more capital budget available and could definitely afford and benefit from UAV technology, but their usefulness will largely be in its imaging and mapping capabilities. While I am sure applications with it will be handy at times it will in large part be its secondary use.

20 feet height limit, hey? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44098605)

There's a shot in the video attached to TFA showing the RMax flying sideways at over 100 feet.

Why UC Davis is doing this: (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 10 months ago | (#44099037)

UC Davis spokesman, Mr Wesp Rays Tudents, clarified that using campus policeman to spray on protesting students sitting on the side walk provoked too many protests and parodies. They believe the urban remote controlled helicopter would be a more humane approach and protect the identity of the policeman doing the spraying.

More Automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101395)

I understand this is probably a dull, dangerous job, but do we have to automate every line of work out of existence?

Re:More Automation (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#44108695)

I understand this is probably a dull, dangerous job, but do we have to automate every line of work out of existence?

We have to automate every dull, dangerous job out of existence so we can free up the humans to enjoy their lives and focus on the creative pursuits where they really shine.

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