Venture Capital poured $855M in investment into the drone industry last year. However, the industry has yet to produce a cost effective Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for mapping in industries like agriculture. ...Until now.Today, TerrAvion introduces the M-UAV. “The M-UAV blows the performance of other UAV platforms out of the water,” said Stewart Long, TerrAvion Operations Director. “Some specialized drone companies are claiming up 1,000 acres in a single flight under optimum conditions. The TerrAvion M-UAV collects over 1,000 acres every minute it is in the air.” “Some of our distribution partners used to charge $6-12 per acre for a single imagery pass,” said Regional Vice President Brandon Udelhofen. “With M-UAV, our partners are able to abandon their FAA 333 exemptions for flights under 400 feet. Because M-UAV can collect more acres per pass, it allows distributors to make more money by offering more flights at a much lower cost, as low as 12 passes for $4 per acre.”Moreover, the battery revolution has not helped prolong flight times for drones currently on the market. The average maximum flight time for high-end drones clocks in at a whimpering 30 minutes. “The gas engine on the M-UAV wasn’t part of our original design, but for what we’re trying to do – it works,” explains Chris Dombrowski, TerrAvion CTO. “We can fly for up to 6 hours at a stretch. The limiting factor is the need to change the fluids in the auto-pilot. Despite the need for fluids and the energy demand of the control system, our biologically-based learning algorithms on the aircraft give us the flexibility required to be certified by the FAA to work in all types of airspace under all conditions that are safe for flight.”“The M-UAV is fully autonomous, without direction from a controller. Further, it does not require the farmer to upload anything, and the M-UAV is not labor or infrastructure-limited like hand-launched devices. Using a network of thousands of FAA approved charging stations throughout the country with access to fiber, our ability to collect data is gated by the cloud, not field infrastructure,” said Angus Tsai, Senior Software Architect.
Soldier launching an M-UAV in training. Photo credit U.S. DoD, Adobe PhotoshopGalen Mancino, TerrAvion Customer Success Manager said “Light-weight quadcopters are uniquely suited for low-altitude, high-res standard pattern flights and yet have been known to experience such meteorological anomalies as ‘high winds’ and ‘birds’. A client recently told me he’s seen ten drone demos where every time they launched it up, it just came right back down. He was disappointed, to say the least. But now that we have the M-UAV, we have been permitted by the FAA to fly under instrument flight rules at all altitudes.”“With labor costs, i.e. pilot time, being virtually the same, we can have our full size Cessna 172 UAV equipped with a licensed pilot, thus becoming a “Manned UnManned Aerial Vehicle” or M-UAV. This overcomes the need for “line of sight” restrictions, allows speeds up to 120 knots, increases altitude to over 7000 feet, and collects more than 500,000 acres in a single day. Admittedly, it is a bit cumbersome to launch by hand (see photo below), but TerrAvion has developed an airfield takeoff/landing procedure that allows for minimal risk during the entire flight sequence” says Amariah Fuller, TerrAvion Chief of Staff.
Man launching M-UAV or Manned Unmanned Aerial Vehicle -- Copyright 2016 Terravion, Inc
“Effective today, we’re switching our whole fleet to the M-UAV.” said Robert Morris, CEO. “The economics and performance clearly make the M-UAV the best kind of drone for mapping in agriculture.”