LA SELVA BEACH – Parallel Flight Technologies, a California-based heavy-lift drone and hybrid propulsion technology company, has been selected by the USDA Wildlife Services (WS) program in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force to develop and demonstrate a drone-based aerial delivery platform to eradicate invasive rodents from Wake Island Airfield and the entirety of Wake Island Atoll.
This Cooperative Agreement aims to integrate Parallel Flight’s autonomous heavy-lift unmanned aerial system (UAS, drone) with a spreader to carry a total payload capacity of approximately 100 pounds and autonomously fly pre-programmed flight paths while accurately delivering rodenticide bait at prescribed application rates. Similar to prescribed burn and precision agriculture application operations using helicopters, aerial wildlife damage management operations often require slow and low-level flights over difficult terrain which can be costly and dangerous. USDA WS is eager to develop an autonomous solution to replace traditional aircraft where possible. Parallel Flight’s aircraft offers a unique combination of lift, endurance, and portability, making the UAS an ideal fit for the Wake Island Rodent Eradication pilot project.
“We are excited to collaborate with USDA and other partners on this important project. Our goal is to improve the safety, cost, and effectiveness of current operations and to promote island conservation efforts, globally. While Wake Atoll is the testing ground for our heavy lift platform, this application has significant growth potential for animal baiting, wildlife damage and disease management operations,” says Parallel Flight CEO/CTO, Joshua Resnick.
Islands represent the greatest concentration of both biodiversity and species extinctions. Island species are often evolutionarily distinctive and highly vulnerable to novel disturbances, particularly invasive species. Invasive species, which primarily spread around the globe via human transportation systems, are a leading cause of extinctions on islands and biodiversity loss globally. Islands are extinction epicenters for 75% of reptile, bird, amphibian, and mammal extinctions. Invasive species play a critical role and are implicated in 86% of all recorded extinctions. Restoring islands by eradicating invasive mammals has repeatedly proven to be a high-impact conservation action that encourages marine resilience, restoration of island communities, prevents extinction, promotes thriving ecosystems, and also promotes global warming resilience. (Fights climate change).