Want To Try A Drone Swarm? Here’s How
BBC reports that when Bill Herz wants to know how his crops are doing, he launches a drone.
He has nearly a thousand acres of corn and soybeans in LaSalle, eastern Illinois. “My drone has saved me time and energy,” he says.
“I don’t need to walk a whole field to find a problem area. I can fly the field, look at the results and go right to it.”
Drones used for farming belong to the arsenal of tools used for precision agriculture – hi-tech farming using data to make better decisions.
So far, flying robots have enabled farmers to live stream crop growth, patrol for pathogens and boost farm efficiency. The next step is to recruit squadrons of them that can co-operate and carry out their tasks without the need for a human pilot.
Scientists from FFI and Rajant Corporation are working on simultaneously flying about 20 drones that can work in co-ordination with little human supervision.
A simple command is all that is needed for the robots to self-organise and communicate in a decentralised way, much in the way flocks of birds or schools of fish move around and interact with each other when they want to “solve” a task requiring collective intelligence.
A Rajant-patented radio technology called “kinetic mesh” and “foreign function interface” distributed computing software are the technological ingredients behind this breakthrough.
“A typical drone of any size flies maybe 30 minutes or less,” says Don Gilbreath, systems vice president at Rajant.
“If a farmer needs to map hundreds of acres of their field, it might take 50 battery charges. A swarm is essentially doing in parallel the same job up to 20 times faster than a single drone.” Continue reading about drone swarms.