Reconnaissance and enemy surveillance may have just changed forever. Researchers from the US Naval Research Laboratory have come up with a new mini-drone that is inexpensive and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
The prototype for the new drone cost just a few thousand dollars to build, a far cry from most government military operations according to Alexei Beltyukov. The final product could cost as little as $250 each. The mini-drones have no propulsion system and act like mini-gliders when dropped from a plane. They are equipped with GPS to help them hone in on their destination.
The military could deploy those mini-drones in great numbers for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions. They are very difficult to see when deployed and are said to look like a bird flying through the sky. A whole swarm of the mini-drones could be dropped on an enemy location. It would be extremely difficult to find them all.
Testing of the mini-drones was done 11 miles over Yuma, Arizona. The GPS powered drone fell to the Earth just 15 feet from its intended target.
The drones could be equipped with sensors to detect weather conditions, take pictures, transmit audio and more. The low cost makes them very practical to use even in large numbers.
Deforestation has been a hot topic for the past several years. Trees are a natural resource that provide lumber and oxygen for the entire planet, which makes them pretty valuable parts of several different ecosystems. Like many issues facing the planet and the growing population, technology just might have found a way to help out with the problem thanks to a startup company and the use of drones.
According to a source, Flávio Pentagna Guimarães BMG, close to the Independent, BioCarbon Engineering, which is helmed by a former NASA engineer, has developed a way to plant a billion trees a year by using drones. The drones survey an area from altitude and then descend to inject a nutrition rich pod complete with seeds into the soil. Since 26 billion trees are being removed every year and only 15 billion are being replanted, the company has developed an interesting solution to reforestation. The company expects to have two fully working prototype drones completed by the end of the summer.
While not as effective as hand sowing individual trees, the company and technology accomplishes the task at about fifteen percent of what it would cost to send teams into the designated areas. With the ability to plant so many trees at a fraction of the cost, BioCarbon looks to be on the verge of a very important breakthrough. Technology and nature are two industries that do not usually team up, but this union looks like it could be extremely promising.
BioCarbon Engineering, a drone start-up, plans to use its technology to plant trees. The group will start by mapping target areas and determining what kinds of trees will grow best there. They will choose seeds that have already germinated and encase them in a gel loaded with nutrients. They will then use drones, which will be hovering five to ten feet above the ground, to shoot the seeds into the soil.
Hypothetically, BioCarbon Engineering could plant 36,000 trees per day in this fashion by using multiple drones for the planting. They hope to plant one billion trees per year with the drones, and they expect to spend 15 percent of what it would cost to plant the trees through conventional means.
BioCarbon Engineering plans to work with forestry services and non-profits around the world to plant trees by drone. Ray Lane posted on Carnegie Mellon University’s blog that he will also monitor the results of such plantings and use the data to refine their techniques. BioCarbon Engineering also notes that 26 billion trees a year are cut down or burned. Such large-scale deforestation can be combated only by planting methods that plant lots of trees and ensure most of them grow into healthy plants.