Volocopter has partnered with American agricultural vehicle and equipment manufacturer John Deere to create the first large agricultural application drone for missions traditionally performed by helicopters, the drone-maker announced this morning. The aircraft is based on the VoloDrone Volocopter unveiled last month and fitted with a John Deere crop-protection spray system with two capacity tanks, a pump, and a spray bar.
Volocopter said the agricultural drone, which has a potential payload up to 441 pounds, is reconfigurable for multiple missions, including spraying, sowing seeds, and frost control and that it can be piloted by a remote operator or fly a pre-programmed route.
The VoloDrone has a diameter of 30.2 feet and is powered by 18 rotors and a fully electric drive using exchangeable lithium-ion batteries. One battery charge provides 30 minutes of flight time. For agricultural spraying, the Volodrone can cover an area equal to approximately 15 acres per flight hour.
Volocopter called the agricultural VoloDrone a “sustainable, precise, and cost-effective alternative to helicopters. Due to the system’s high flexibility and GPS control, more selective area-specific treatments are also possible.” Flight and application tests will begin next year.