John Deere Teams with Startup to Develop a Cropdusting Drone

John Deere is teaming up with drone startup Volocopter.
Donna Fuscaldo

Volocopter, the drone startup out of Bruchsal, Germany, announced last week the first partner for its commercial unmanned aerial aircraft: John Deere. 

In a press release, the companies announced John Deere, the agriculture equipment maker, will work with Volocopter to developer an aerial crop-dusting system called VoloDrone. 


The VoloDrone can cover wide areas 

The two showed off the crop-duster at AGRITECHNICA, the global agricultural engineering industry trade show. The one being showcased has a John Deere crop protection sprayer on it. The companies said the VoloDrone can cover large areas, particularly under difficult operating conditions. 

"Large drones are becoming increasingly important, not just in the field of logistics but also in passenger transport. At the same time, small drones are already being used in agriculture for stock control and mapping, for example," the companies wrote in a press release. "Both companies see great potential for the VoloDrone’s use in agriculture, with capabilities ranging from difficult topography to increased efficiency in the use of crop protection agents, sowing seeds or frost control. The development of this demonstrator is a first step towards bringing this innovative technology closer to commercial application after full testing in the field."

Test to start during the next growing season

The VoloDrone has 18 rotors, an overall diameter of 9.2m and includes a fully electric drive powered by exchangeable lithium-ion batteries. One battery charge gives the drone thirty minutes of flight times.

It can be operated remotely or follow a pre-programmed route. While the two are showing it off with a crop protection sprayer on it the companies said it has a standardized payload attachment system which means different devices can be attached on the frame. For protecting crops, its equipped with two capacity tanks, a pump and a spray bar. 

Volocopter and John Deere said they will engage in flight and application tests over the next growing season. 

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