Butterfly-like drones may be a useful complement to helicopter drones, which have been flying in greenhouses for some time. With less chance of painful collisions.
Matej Karasek, co-founder of start-up Flapper Drones, recently demonstrated prototype flutter drones around the greenhouses of Wageningen University & Research in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands for interested parties from science and horticulture.
First, small and larger Flapper drones fluttered above the gerberas. Then some test flights were made over and between zucchinis. This is more complicated because of the crop wires and the higher crop. There, a drone must be able not only above but also between the crops if it is to be functional.
The device turned out to be maneuverable enough. The drone also stayed airborne when its wings came into contact with the stiff leaves of the zucchini plants, without damaging the leaves.
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According to representatives from the horticultural industry and from Wageningen UR and TU Delft who witnessed the flight, this type of drone would mainly be useful for plant monitoring and scouting for diseases and pests. Pollinating is also a task that these drones could perform. The advantage of the friendlier moving wings made of softer material than the familiar fiercely buzzing quadcopters is obvious if you want to have every plant or fruit monitored at close range.
Preventing feeding damage outdoors.
Bird-like drones can also be useful outdoors, as interest from outdoor vegetable and fruit growers proves. Larger flutter drones can detect damaging birds or rodents in orchards and fields and chase them away before they feast on fruit or young plants.