AIRRAILS AGRI (https://airrails-agri.com) is an autopilot system with computer vision at its core that has been designed specifically for crop spraying and seeding drones and is the result of a multi-year partnership between UAVenture and SUIND.
AIRRAILS AGRI is built on UAVenture’s VTOL OS flight control stack and SUIND’s computer vision technology. An industrial-grade autopilot solution with advanced features such as obstacle detection and avoidance, terrain sensing and precision navigation in GPS denied environments.
A beta tester of the system and crop spraying drone integrator in Taiwan, Mr. Lee stated that “The vision system has made planning and operating the drone a lot safer and easier than it used to be. Rice fields tend to have trees near the crop edges and power poles within the crop and we no longer need to accurately map their location so that the flight plan can be adapted to fly around them. We just mark out the border of the field and the drone detects and avoids them while spraying.”
Use of a vision system has a number of advantages, including:
- Detection of trees, poles and other obstacles that appear along or near the mission path
- Dynamic route planning which is continuously updated to provide the autopilot with millisecond avoidance guidance to navigate the drone around the obstacle and back onto the flight plan
- Extremely simple planning, with only the region to be sprayed that needs to be set and no longer having to mark the location of obstacles
- Spraying operations where manual planning around a high number of obstacles is not practical or possible, such as shade trees on tea plantations
- Efficient coverage and increased safety by avoiding the inaccuracy of manual GPS based geo-referencing of obstacles
According to Simon Wilks, co-founder of UAVenture: “Our goal is to increasingly shift the focus away from traditional single-purpose sensors to the vision system. Work is currently underway to go beyond just obstacle avoidance and use vision for terrain-following instead of radars and vision based navigation in place of RTK solutions. This will result in a smarter, upgradable product, with less hardware components and wiring.”
The AIRRAILS AGRI system also comes in two other non-vision variants: an entry-level version with standard GPS and a Trimble RTK version for centimetre-level precision. There is also a dual radar option for steep terrain support.
The vision system can be ordered today with shipping expected to start in September, 2021. A very limited number of vision systems are still available at a reduced price for early adopters who meet the requirements.
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