Apr 25, 2023 - Technology

Meet the new crop-dusting drones

An electric, autonomous drone is spraying crops on a large farm.

Guardian Agriculture's electric autonomous drones. Photo courtesy of Guardian Agriculture

The first large electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft approved for commercial deployment in the U.S. isn't an urban air taxi or a cargo shuttle. It's an aerial crop-spraying machine for farm fields.

Why it matters: Commercial farmers have been moving away from tractor sprayers, which can damage crops, to autonomous aerial systems. But most crop-spraying drones are too small to cover enough acreage.

  • Guardian Agriculture developed a larger, purpose-built eVTOL that covers a wider area, with digital precision, for the same or less than it costs to hire a piloted helicopter or plane.

What's next: The green light from the Federal Aviation Administration means Massachusetts-based Guardian is now ramping up production of the $300,000 machines.

  • CEO and founder Adam Bercu says the company already has more than $100 million in orders, including an order for 400 systems from a leading spray service provider, Wilbur-Ellis (also a Guardian investor).
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