As Japan's farmers age, drones help with heavy lifting

#artificialintelligence

The next generation farmhand in Japan's aging rural heartland may be a drone. For several months, developers and farmers in northeast Japan have been testing a new drone that can hover above paddy fields and perform backbreaking tasks in a fraction of the time it takes for elderly farmers. "This is unprecedented high technology," said Isamu Sakakibara, a 69-year-old rice farmer in the Tome area, a region that has supplied rice to Tokyo since the 17th century. Developers of the new agricultural drone say it offers high-tech relief for rural communities facing a shortage of labor as young people leave for the cities. "As we face a shortage of next-generation farmers, it's our mission to come up with new ideas to raise productivity and farmers' income through the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as drones," said Mr. Sakakibara, who is also the head of JA Miyagi Tome, the local agricultural cooperative. The drone can apply pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes – a job that takes more than an hour by hand and requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks.


Florida wants to battle mosquitoes with drones

Daily Mail

Most people might use sprays or swatters to get rid of pesky mosquitoes from their homes. Now, Florida county is set to battle these troublesome pests with teams of low-flying insect-fighting drones. The state even has plans to create one mammoth craft that weighs the same as a grizzly bear (1,500 pounds/ 680kg). As a result of a new US federal programme, authorities will be able to fly drones at night and directly over people at'low altitude', something that would not have been permitted under current law. Details about when or how the unmanned drone will be combating the country's pest problem have yet to be revealed.


Al drones help beat California drought as they analyse soil and look for leaks

Daily Mail

Equipped with a state-of-the-art thermal camera, the drone crisscrossed the field, scanning it for cool, soggy patches where a gopher may have chewed through the buried drip irrigation line and caused a leak. In the drought-prone West, where every drop of water counts, California farmers are in a constant search for ways to efficiently use the increasingly scarce resource. Pictured above, Danny Royer, vice president of technology at Bowles Farming Co., prepares to pilot a drone over a tomato field near Los Banos, Calif. Farmers say leak-detecting drones can help save massive amounts of water. The video camera is paired up with a smartphone or computer tablet, which is used to control the drone.


'Innovation zone' sites picked for program aimed at expanding drone flights

The Japan Times

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Wednesday announced 10 sites for a test program aimed at increasing the use of unmanned aircraft for projects that range from monitoring crops and oil pipelines in North Dakota to applying mosquito-killing treatments in Florida and package deliveries in Tennessee. President Donald Trump signed a directive last year to establish the "innovation zones" that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can't be seen by the operator. States, communities and tribes selected to participate would devise their own trial programs in partnership with government and industry drone users. "Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace," Chao said in a statement. Chao, who called the rapidly developing drone industry the biggest development since the jet age, said about 150 applications were received.


The ultimate hands-free umbrella: $275 drone can hover above you during storms

Daily Mail

President Donald Trump signed a directive in 2017 to establish the'innovation zones' that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can't be seen by the operator. 'Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,' US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement. Ms Chao, who called the rapidly developing drone industry the biggest development since the jet age, said about 150 applications were received. Ten sites have been included in a the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. North Dakota lieutenant governor Brent Sanford said the program will spur more commercial investment and'allow us to explore new uses for unmanned aircraft.'