Drones

FAA gives approval for company to use swarms of drones to reforest burned areas

DroneSeed will be allowed to operates drones beyond visual line of sight

DroneSeedA apparatus for dropping seed vessels is attached to a drone after being reloaded with tree seeds. Bloomberg image.

DroneSeed, a company that uses fleets of drones to reforest areas burned in wildfires, received approval in October from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its heavy-lift drones to operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and to operate in California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

The FAA’s action allows DroneSeed to begin reforesting once a fire is contained and airspace is clear. Their aircraft drop seeds that are encapsulated in vessels consisting of four to six seeds, fertilizer, natural pest deterrents, and fibrous material which absorbs water and increases survivability.

The company has designed a system around a swarm of drones that can drop tree seeds in places where they have a decent chance of survival. First they survey the area with a drone using lidar and a multispectral camera to map the terrain and the vegetation. Software then identifies areas with invasive species or other plants the landowner wants to eliminate that could compete with the new trees. Then a drone can apply herbicide to only the patches that need it, rather than dumping pesticide over the entire landscape. The next step is to use artificial intelligence to sort through the mapping data to find areas where a dropped seed is most likely to germinate, in order to avoid, for example, rock, roads, and unburned locations. After the aircraft is launched, it operates autonomously flying a grid pattern with five drones.

DroneseedDroneSeed. CNN image

The company is already reforesting some of the areas burned this year in the one million-acre August Complex of fires in Northern California, and the 173,000-acre Holiday Farm Fire in Oregon.

After sites are selected, seed vessels are manufactured, in many cases containing native Douglas Fir or Ponderosa Pine.

The approval from the FAA is a first for the agency, as each of DroneSeed’s aircraft carry a 57-pound payload and operate in swarms of up to five aircraft. This is the third precedent-setting FAA approval the company has earned. Currently DroneSeed is the only company in the United States approved to operate with heavy-lift drone swarms, according to the company.

The video below describes the reseeding system beginning at 0:32 and ending at 3:52.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick.

The company has designed a system around a swarm of drones that can drop tree seeds in places where they have a decent chance of survival. First they survey the area with a drone using lidar and a multispectral camera to map the terrain and the vegetation. Software then identifies areas with invasive species or other plants the landowner wants to eliminate that could compete with the new trees. Then a drone can apply herbicide to only the patches that need it, rather than dumping pesticide over the entire landscape. The next step is to use artificial intelligence to sort through the mapping data to find areas where a dropped seed is most likely to germinate, in order to avoid, for example, rock, roads, and unburned locations. After the aircraft is launched, it operates autonomously flying a grid pattern with five drones.

Source: https://wildfiretoday.com/2020/12/06/faa-gives-approval-for-company-to-use-swarms-of-drones-to-reforest-burned-areas/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button