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Project Using Drones to Assess Farmland Wins $100K

(From left) MIT $100K co-director Marc Chalifoux; RaptorMaps team members Eddie Obropta, Nikhil Vadhavkar, and Forrest Meyen; event host Krisztina Holly; and MIT $100K co-director Jacob Auchincloss. (Photo credit: MIT $100K)
(From left) MIT $100K co-director Marc Chalifoux; RaptorMaps team members Eddie Obropta, Nikhil Vadhavkar, and Forrest Meyen; event host Krisztina Holly; and MIT $100K co-director Jacob Auchincloss. (Photo credit: MIT $100K)

A new project at MIT will use drones to monitor crops. Known as RaptorMaps, the project involves flying drones over farmland collecting images to track crop health and hopefully boost yields.
“We are making drones to feed the world,” said Forrest Meyen, a PhD student in aeronautics and astronautics and part of the RaptorMaps team.

By analyzing the images collected by the drones, the system can pinpoint damaged or diseased crops, which sometimes appear as white spots or curved lines in the field. Farmers can use this data, which is put online, to treat affected areas because small problems get out of hand.

The drones offer significant advantages over existing methods: they provide higher resolution images that can be found via satellite and they can can a large area in a fraction of the time it might take a farmer would manually.

The RaptorMaps team recently won MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, and the team says they will use the money to take their product to market.

One comment

  1. The private sector UAV companies have been doing mapping, yield and crop health surveys for about 4 years already using UAVs with image resolutions now down to 1cm per pixel in single images and 8-10 on stitched mosaics. Also, there’s a company that provides scouting capable NIR and faux NDVI images within a few minutes completing a flight; Good enough to convert to prescription maps for export to field applicators. AgEagle with Drone Deploy. The UAV fixed wing system costs about $15,000 and covers 16,000 of image service processing.

    My rough estimation is there are 20-25 UAV agri service players in the US right now not to mention image analytic companies.

    I’m curious as to what is different in this case?

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