- LAST NEWS: Drones Listen in on Bats to Reveal their In-Flight Secrets
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3D Printing Improves Battery Life of Crop Dusting UAV
Italian drone company Soleon has been using 3D printing to reduce the weight of drone components, improving the efficiency of its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). One of its latest products, SoleonAgro, is an agricultural pest control drone with a laser sintered polyamide body.
For those of us who don’t work in agriculture, our knowledge of crop dusting is limited to a handful of scenes in the Will Smith sci-fi movie Independence Day. We know it has something to do spraying crops with chemicals, we know aircraft are involved somehow, and we think there is some connection with aliens in there too.
In all seriousness, crop dusting (or “aerial application” as it is now more commonly known) is an important part of agriculture, as it helps crop owners distribute huge amounts of crop protection products over large areas. The aircraft used to spray these products are even sometimes used to fight fires: load up their tanks with water instead of chemicals, and you have a vehicle capable of dropping large amounts of water over otherwise unreachable blaze.
In recent decades, unmanned crop dusting vehicles have become more common, and the recent drone craze has only served to accelerate the trend. One company developing such crop dusting drones is Soleon, an Italian UAV specialist that has been in the business since 2009. Using 3D printing services to create lightweight components for its drones, Soleon recently unveiled SoleonAgro, a drone made for biological pest control.
Although it could be used in a number of agricultural situations, SoleonAgro was actually built with one particular target in mind: the corn borer, a flying pest which chomps its way through maize stalks, causing a large number of crops to be destroyed each year. But unlike many pest control solutions, the SoleonAgro is not designed to distribute chemicals, which can be harmful to both the crop and animals across the food chain (including humans).
Instead, the 3D printed drone distributes the eggs of the Trichogramma, a species of wasp that has a keen appetite for the corn borer. This genius solution has a number of benefits: it’s natural, it’s eco-friendly, and it’s a devastatingly effective way of preserving maize crops. By distributing these wasp eggs evenly and efficiently, the 3D printed SoleonAgro drone can be an incredibly useful agricultural tool. It even looks like a wasp!
Soleon produces a number of customer-specified drones besides the SoleonAgro, each of which has its own distinct purpose. The company uses 3D printing for many of these UAVs, harnessing the power of Materialise’s 3D printing service for both rapid prototyping and end-use part production. The end-use 3D printed parts need to be particularly lightweight in order to maximize battery power and increase flying time.
For the SoleonAgro, Materialise used a laser sintering 3D printer to print the drone body and parts in PA 12 (polyamide) and PA-GF (polyamide filled with glass particles). PA 12 is durable and lightweight, while the glass-filled PA-GF is more rigid and less vulnerable to vibration. PA-GF was therefore used for parts close to the motor.
2017-04-28Drones Listen in on Bats to Reveal their In-Flight Secrets
Bat-detecting drones could help us find out what the animals get up to when flying. Ultrasonic detectors on drones in the air and on the water are listening in on bat calls, in the hope of discovering more about the mammals’ lives beyond the reach of ground-based monitoring devices.
2017-04-27Virginia Tech Aviation Partnership Test BVLOS Flights
Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Ligado Networks, AeroVironment, Inc., and Dominion Virginia Power evaluated communications strategies and other parameters to help build a safety case for unmanned aircraft flights beyond the visual line of sight of a pilot or observer.
2017-04-27Lockheed Martin Continues Successful Fury Flight Tests
Lockheed Martin‘s advanced tactical Group 3 unmanned aerial system (UAS), Fury, is regularly flying long-range endurance test missions as the company prepares it for low-rate production.
2017-04-26Air-to-Ground UAV Teaming – Singapore Style
Operating as a team, an autonomous vehicle with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying overhead as surveillance could go deep into complex and unfamiliar terrains such as dense forests to deliver supplies to the battlefield.
2017-04-25Second Generation Hydrogen Fuel Cell Drone
This year at FAMEX, Chinese manufacturer MMC introduces its new technology of hydrogen UAS HyDrone 1800 with upgraded specifications to meet higher standards in professional applications. The Feria Aeroespacial México 2017 (FAMEX 2017) kicks off at Mexico City on 26 April.
2017-04-24US Army Releases Counter-Drone Manual
Having developed and utilized unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones) for surveillance, targeting and attack, the US military now finds itself in the position of having to defend against the same technology.
2017-04-20US Army Purchases Dronebuster C-UAS System
Radio Hill has just finalized a contract initiated by the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) to purchase a large lot of block 3 Dronebusters. This hand-held drone detection and jamming systems for use in the battle against ISIL.
2017-04-19Controlling Drones via LTE Network
KDDI and Terra Drone have announced the completion of inventing “4G LTE control system”, the system allows operators to control drones via LTE network. This system also helps drone businesses by managing the information on each drone and operator and providing detailed flight logs of each flight.
2017-04-18Hydrogen Drone, HyDrone 1550, Successfully Tested at High Altitudes
Search and rescue is a valued application for drones, but mountain rescues at high altitude have been difficult due to the technology barriers created by the use of lithium batteries. Commercial drone manufacturer MMC addresses that issue with the hydrogen-powered HyDrone 1550.
2017-04-17New Software Simplifies Oil and Gas Inspections
Industrial Skyworks has announced the official launch of Blue VU advanced software for the accurate and efficient inspection of buildings, and oil and gas infrastructure. Industrial Skyworks’ new Blue VU software will relieve inspectors, engineers and technicians from sifting through thousands of images while providing safe visual access to hard to reach locations, such as the roofs of buildings, flare stacks, and storage tanks.
Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills
Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills
2012-04-05 Hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Flies ScanEagle