Unmanned Vehicles the Key to Precision Agriculture, Conference on October 4

Published: August 17, 2011

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Unmanned autonomous systems (UAS) and the technology to operate them have been in use by the Department of Defense in conflicts now for some time. Experts at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and industry partners present a conference to bring this military technology into the agricultural arena.

The Atlanta chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) presents its inaugural Commercial UAS Conference: Precision Agriculture conference on Oct. 4, 2011, at the GTRI Conference Center

Young Kim, AUVSI Atlanta Chapter president and CEO of Guided Systems Technologies, organized the conference to bring more attention to the agricultural industry as an area of growth for the unmanned sensing community. Speakers from Argentina, Japan and Korea, where unmanned vehicles already are used for agricultural purposes, will make presentations.

“This represents a far larger market for UAS than Defense,” Kim said. “It’s global, so it’s very large, and it’s recurring. With this inaugural event, we want to create an awareness of this opportunity among the unmanned systems community in general.”

According to Gary McMurray, chief of GTRI’s Food Processing Technology Division (FPTD), Georgia offers the resources to create a collaborative environment for exploring agriculture uses of UAS in Georgia.

“The state of Georgia is a nexus where taking this technology into agriculture can be thoroughly explored,” McMurray said. “We at GTRI have a lot of experience with unmanned systems, FPTD has the expertise in food sensing, Georgia Tech has extensive experience in robotics, agriculture is the state’s largest business and our partners at the University of Georgia have the agriculture expertise.”

Manned vehicles, he argues, can only operate at certain times, and there is an inherent danger in flying too low. Likewise, applying pesticide and fertilizer from the ground is inefficient - many times the tops of trees go untreated. Unmanned vehicles could accomplish the job at any time of day, and would be more efficient.

“By 2050, to feed the world’s population we will need to double our food production,” McMurray said. “This cannot be done by simply increasing acreage. We need to have more efficient production.”

The conference runs from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit the conference Website or contact Michele Atkinson at 678-856-3762.