Outreach Robotics, Quebec start-up protecting flora through drone innovation

Outreach Robotics, Quebec start-up protecting flora through drone innovation

Quebec start-up Outreach Robotics (previously known as DeLeaves) is revolutionising the way we discover, catalog and map some of the rarest plants in the world. Working alongside National Geographic, Investissement Québec (mandatary of the Government of Quebec), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Mitacs, Createk Design Lab, Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Innovation technologique (3IT), Sherbrooke University, National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP) and the State of Hawaii – Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Outreach Robotics is enabling a unique method of sampling previously unreachable plants and facilitating the preservation of endangered floral species.

One of the recent innovations from Outreach Robotics, the Mamba can be used to complete the conservation life cycle for organisms located in difficult areas, from location to collection, then cultivation and outplanting. Ensuring the survival of plant species on the brink of extinction.

The scientific article Collecting critically endangered cliff plants using a drone‑based sampling manipulator regarding their work in Hawaii will be available on the 13th of September, published in the globally renowned Nature Scientific report, and can be accessed here once released.

This innovation is the first aerial system capable of sampling plants in difficult to reach areas. With its patent currently pending, the tool was recently tested on the Hawaiian cliffside, where seeds and cuttings from five critically endangered species were successfully collected, such as extremely rare native species Lysimachia iniki and Isodendrion pyrifolium which grow on sheer cliff faces that are otherwise inaccessible. These samples are currently surviving in nurseries provided by the NTBG.

Calling the Mamba a “game-changer,” NTBG’s drone specialist Nyberg added, “it allows us to reach critically endangered species that are down to just a few individuals. It can be the difference between extinction and survival.”

Moreover, new applications of this technology are currently being developed for other sectors, such as the inspection of wind turbines, Outreach Robotics is beginning to experience substantial commercial success in the scientific community.

“We see huge potential in using drones to perform in-contact tasks. This is a revolution that is beginning in the field of aerial robotics, which until now has focused on imaging applications.” –  Guillaume Charron, co-founder of Outreach Robotics.

About Outreach Robotics

Outreach Robotics is on a mission to be a leader in the development of airborne tools to perform touch and interact with hard-to-reach environments. In particular, they are known for the DeLeaves tool that provides a new way to sample trees using a drone. The company works with leading agricultural and forestry companies and research organizations around the world to enable sampling of previously inaccessible plants and trees. Their new technology, the Mamba, has the potential to revolutionize the work that can be done with a drone. Outreach Robotics now wants to use their unique technology to take robotics to another level. In fact, their technologies are already being used in the field of infrastructure inspection through collaborations with large engineering consulting firms.