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David Sparks Ph.d Modern Drone Optics
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: June 19, 2014

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Dr. Deon van der Merwe is a Kansas State University professor who is heavily involved in the development of modern drone technology for use in agricultural applications. Interestingly, a lot of us revel over the aero-technology that allows us to fly these little drones over huge plots of land. While the flying part is indeed impressive, the real issue is what the drones are carrying. “Cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years. Nowadays, you can have very quality sensors on an aircraft for a relatively low price. Methods for converting consumer grade cameras to the type of camera that gives you valuable information about plant health has come a long way as well. The data that gets produced is a mass of data so when you do a flight with a camera you take many pictures and those many pictures are just pretty pictures unless you can process them in such a way that you can get useful information from them. For that you need to use some very sophisticated software coupled with modern computer power. Those things have become available as well. It is not showing any sign of diminishing in the face of progress. If anything, the pace of progress is accelerating so things are just becoming more reliable, more useful and cheaper. The future looks very bright because this is a technology that is going to be accessible to many farmers.

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