Bird-like drone to help remote farmers

A revolutionary new drone has been developed that mimics bird flight, making it more practical for farmers in remote locations who were limited in drone use by their previous inability to fly in winds exceeding 25mph and to stay airborne for long periods. 

Faco Drone Technologies, a Cornish start-up, run by an aerospace engineering graduate, has developed ‘Hover Bird,’ which uses wind to its advantage.

Drones are increasingly being used in British farming, such as for checking crops and livestock and Faco Drone Technologies founder, Patrick Maletz, saw the advantages of plagerising nature to improve the technology to make it inclusive for all farmers, regardless of location.

Maletz explained that conventional drones were ‘not very good’ at flying in high winds.

“If you look at conventional drones and helicopters, they use 95-98% of their energy to just stay in the air and overcome gravity.

“Which means drone batteries often don’t keep them airborne for longer than 20 minutes.”

The company’s research showed that using wind like a bird does, rather than fighting against it, meant they could potentially increase drone flight time to three hours.

“The benefit is that you can hover over a target, like an animal, and come in for closer inspection,” he continued.

“Drones are also really useful for early detection of pests and diseases in crops and, like most drones, Hover Bird can be fitted with multi-spectrum cameras to aid this.”

The idea came to Maletz while he was on a skiing holiday in the Alps several years ago.

“I thought how useful it would be to have a drone for ski patrols but realised that the high winds would be a problem,” he said.

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