FLYING Magazine

The FAA has allowed a Texas drone company an exemption that will allow the commercial use of “drone swarms” in agriculture.

Hylio asked for the exemption to help it make drone aerial application economically viable. Under drone rules, a commercial drone has to have a remote pilot and spotter, but the exemption allows the same crew to run as many as three drones at once and spray almost as quickly as a tractor can.

Each drone carries 15 gallons of spray and the downwash from the eight rotors ensures good coverage. Proprietary software allows them to operate autonomously and fly a variety of patterns.

At about $80,000 each, the drones are much less expensive than the large tractors used in industrial farming operations, use a fraction of the energy and don’t compact the soil.

Of course, Hylio is already looking at other uses for the tripled-up drones. As individual aircraft, the drones have been used for everything from seeding wildfire areas to seeding pods with clams for aquatic farmers and are expected to bring similar efficiencies.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on AVweb.

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