Large Drone Approved to Spray Crops by FAA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Aviation Administration has given the first ever go ahead for an aerial drone to spray crops.
According to the Tech Times, the Yamaha Motor Corporation’s 207-pound RMAX crop dusting drone has successfully obtained consent.
While drones were previously allowed to fly over to provide farmers with pictures of areas that would need to be sprayed, they were never previously allowed to carry and execute a load of pesticides or even fertilizer. Until now.
“The FAA finds that a grant of exemption is in the public interest,” the administration said in a 23 page report. “The enhanced safety achieved using a UA (Unmanned Aircraft) with the specifications described by the petitioner and carrying no passengers or crew, rather than a manned aircraft of significantly greater proportions, carrying crew in addition to flammable fuel, gives the FAA good cause to find that the UAS operation enabled by this exemption is in the public interest.”
To see Yamaha’s RMAX in action, you can view the video from Tech Times below.
The green light does come with stipulations, however. According to the Tech Times report, the news came with 28 conditions the FAA imposed, including that the RMAX cannot fly higher than 400 feet off the ground and cannot fly more than 45 miles per hour. It was also expressly declared that this approval is only for the RMAX, and no other drones at this time. But it is still a start to a new approach in crop dusting.
“I think this is a great advance for the drone industry and for people who have invested and worked with these, waiting for the day they would be approved for commercial use,” said experienced drone owner and flyer Gary Clevenger, Managing Member and Partner for Freska Produce International. “This will allow farmers to apply insecticides in hard-to-reach places effectively and cost efficiently. This is just the beginning of the possibilities of what drones can do for businesses across the world, both efficiently and effectively, [providing] low cost alternatives for a wide array of things from applying pest control, to mapping and monitoring farm watering activity, and more.”
Per the FAA’s restrictions, the drone will have to remain in the direct line of sight of whoever is operating it, as well as a secondary person, whenever it is in use.