Flying robots may soon become the norm on farms in Saskatchewan if Precision AI achieves its goal.
The company uses drones with artificial intelligence to automatically survey fields and differentiate between weeds and crops, spraying just the weeds. Precision A.I. won the sterling silver innovation award at Canada’s Farm Progress Show.
“There’s cameras built into these drones and they can actually see what’s going on in the field. When they see the plants, it’s actually smart enough on its own to be able to say ok this is canola or this is Canadian Thistle or it’s wild oats and it can actually make those distinctions on the fly inside the drone itself,” said Dan McCann, founder of Precision AI.
McCann said 80 per cent of spray ends up on the bare ground when using traditional sprayers. He said using drones is a dramatic increase in efficiency saving time and chemical costs.
The drone measures about seven feet across and it able to lift 75 pounds. When spraying weeds, it flies two to three metres above the ground while the articulating arm comes down within inches of the weed to spray it.
Precision AI is currently in the field trial stage, testing the drones on farms just outside Regina and Saskatoon to see how the fare with weather conditions like the wind and rain.
“We’re also testing out doing it at night when the winds tend to be lower because the drones, we’ve got lights on them, so they can actually see at night,” said McCann.
If all goes well, the company is planning for a commercial rollout in 2020. McCann said they’re exploring the idea of using the drones in a service model. Instead of buying a sprayer, farmers could contact Precision AI, which will then take care of crop protection for less than the cost of the chemicals farmers are using today.Return Home >