Can Robots Save the World…Or At Least Feed It?

Drones provide many benefits in agriculture. (Photo: Courtesy

For people working in the field of unmanned systems, it can sometimes seem as though Hollywood has it in for these marvels of technology. Perhaps it’s just that producers and writers need a new bad guy, and a drone seems to fit the bill as an out-of-control tech that is as creepy as any zombie. The recent reboot of “24,” the action/thriller TV show, includes terrorists hacking and taking over numerous U.S. armed drones over the city of London – a frightening possibility, to say the least.

This type of publicity increases public awareness of unmanned systems, but it fails to feature any of the substantial benefits such systems offer. Those who work closely with the unmanned industry view unmanned systems as offering tangible solutions to many real-world problems of safety, productivity, transportation, and the need for increased food production.

Drones provide many benefits in agriculture. (Photo: Courtesy
Drones provide many benefits for the agricultural industry. (Photo:

So it’s good to see that DARPA has been hard at work for the past several years creating hack-proof drones. Perhaps at least that fear about unmanned systems can be countered. Meanwhile, much more exciting and interesting progress is quietly being made in the very promising field of agricultural unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.

There are approximately 7.1 billion people in the world today, and it’s predicted that by the year 2050 this will increase to more than 9 billion people. That increase means that in the next 36 years we are going to have to produce about 70 percent more food than we do today. Unmanned systems (both air and ground) are ideal to assist farmers in land surveys, disease detection, moisture monitoring, crop health and inventory monitoring, and weed infestation to name a few. Of course, one can’t really imagine that a show featuring the monitoring of a wheat field or an aerial search for specific soil components would make for exciting television. But as most people enjoy eating, it may pay big dividends for the unmanned industry to start promoting all the beneficial, non-threatening, but still very high tech things that precision agricultural robots and unmanned vehicles can do.

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Despite the incredible variety of sizes, shapes, and functions being developed to assist farmers around the world, one thing all these systems share is the need for precision navigation, stabilization, and pointing. That’s why more designers and engineers are looking closely at KVH’s expanding line of affordable, high performance Fiber Optic Gyros (FOGs) and gyro-based inertial measurement units, like the very successful DSP-1750 and DSP-1760 FOGs and the 1750 IMU. Learn more about the entire line of KVH high accuracy sensors.

About Pam Cleveland 29 Articles
Manager, Inertial Navigation Marketing and Global Proposals

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