Agricultural drone

Nowadays drones are gaining popularity very fast because of their wide range of applications. In this project, we will see how to develop an agricultural drone and what all things can be done using it.

Due to the depletion of natural resources, all the farmers started implementing Precision agriculture (PA). Precision Agriculture is a technique that uses Information Technology to give the crops and soil what exactly is required which ensures sustainability, profitability and protection to the environment.

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In recent years the drone usage in agriculture has increased not only because of the technological advancement also due to the huge decrease in agricultural labourers. In agriculture, drones are used to perform various functions such as crop inspection, seed planting, pest control, livestock monitoring, etc.

In UAV’ there are two categories:

  1. Fixed-wing - prefered for large distance and heavy payload
  2. Multirotor - preferred for precision

In our case, we are going to develop the drone on top of Multirotor configuration (hexacopter). Using more number of rotors not only increases the payload capacity but also the stability and redundancy of the drone.

The first thing that you have to start with is by selecting the components required to build the drone. Before starting, you can also design the drone and simulate it using software like MATLAB, CATIA, ANSYS, SOLIDWORKS, etc.

Now, Calculate the AUW of the drone. You can also take reference from the previously available models. In our case, the AUW is 25 Kg including the payload for seed planting/pesticide spraying.

Now select the components according to the requirements:

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Selected components:

  1. Brushless motor (T-motor U11 90KV)
  2. Propeller (T-Motor 27.8x8)
  3. 80 A (Electronic Speed Controller)
  4. Foldable frame (Material: Aluminium/Carbon fiber)
  5. Flight controller (Pixhawk 2.4.8)
  6. Companion computer - Raspberry pi (to perform crop inspection using image processing algorithms)
  7. 20,000 mAh Lithium polymer battery
  8. RTK GPS module (for more precision)
  9. Telemetry module (RFD 900)
  10. Transmitter and receiver (Taranis X9D with TBS crossfire module)
  11. HD Video transmission system
  12. Thermal imaging camera (if required)
  13. Seed planting mechanism
  14. Speaker for livestock herding
  15. Pesticide sprayer and tank

After selecting the required components the next step is to select a suitable ground control software. You can choose anyone from the following QGround Control, Mission Planner, DroneDeploy, MAVproxy, etc.

From the above software, my favourite is Mission Planner because using Mission planner you can able to perform a lot more functions such as grid formation, geo-fencing, load dropping, waypoint navigation, etc. Also by integrating python with mission planner, you can able to control the drone by giving command line modules.

If you are planning to use your mobile as Ground control station you can go for QGround Control which is available in both the platforms (Mobile/Laptop).

Future works:

If you wish you can make it as a multipurpose modular drone where you can easily change the modules (pesticide spraying, crop inspection, seed planting) on the go. The next big thing is the swarm of autonomous drones which can cover bigger areas easily.

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Kit required to develop Agricultural drone:
Technologies you will learn by working on Agricultural drone:
Agricultural drone
Skyfi Labs Last Updated: 2022-05-19

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