UAE to Use Drones to Collect Agricultural Intelligence

Enhanced crop production and rising venture-funding needs is increasing acceptance of agricultural drones.

Jun 4, 2018 (BE2C2) — UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is introducing a new project to survey and map agricultural areas using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

MoCCAE invited several professional drone companies in the UAE to carry out the pilot phase of the project.

Commencing in the second week of June, this phase will include surveying and mapping Wadi Al Khib area (500 sq miles) in the emirate of Fujairah using cutting-edge technology.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment said, “Using a drone-enabled aerial mapping system is the ideal solution to generate high-resolution, highly efficient aerial data, including topographic mapping, contouring, vector mapping and textured 3D city models. This data will be systematically analyzed to produce accurate statistical information that is updated constantly.

UAE aims to create a highly accurate agricultural database that supports decision making and forward planning from climate change and environment standpoint. Gulf countries were part of the Paris climate agreement reached in 2015 on global warming.

“We hope through this project to create a highly accurate agricultural database that supports decision making and forward planning – particularly important if we are to achieve outstanding outcomes in precision agriculture,” he added.

Some of the types of data to be collected through the project include the number of temperature-controlled greenhouses (chilled and outdoor temperature greenhouses), area of windbreaks, infertile land area, area of farm buildings and facilities, number of wells in a farm, soil type and salinity, and livestock population (camels, cows, sheep, goats, and horses, among others).

In addition, data on the number of beehives on a farm, farm area and geographical boundaries, farm classification (crop farm, animal farm or mixed), area of temporary and permanent crops, number of palm trees and other fruit trees, as well as area of protected agriculture will also be collated.

Agriculture Drones Market valued at approximately USD 434 Million in 2016 is anticipated to grow with a healthy growth rate of more than 38% over the forecast period 2017-2025.

Rising demand for quality food crops due to growing population is the key factor driving the drones market growth. Furthermore, increasing adoption of advanced technologies to enhance crop production and rising venture-funding needs is increasing the acceptance of agricultural drones.

In a related note, scientists have created the first nano drone capable of flying itself without a human operator, breaking ground on new ways to miniaturize artificial intelligence (AI) and limit processing power.

Six researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Bologna figured out a way to maximize the drone’s bite-sized power and memory limitations using DroNet, “a lightweight residual convolutional neural network (CNN) architecture,” according to a paper they released earlier this month.

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