Working for the land to provide high food productivity these days requires advanced aerial technologies, and agribusiness is benefiting from advances in aeronautics. At Brazil’s Agrishow this week in Ribeirão Preto, a ‘superdrone’ was launched that could be a game-changer for Brazil’s agricultural industry.
With a five metre diameter, the superdrone launched by the company Eleva did not make demonstrations of flight at the fair, but even on the ground impressed its audience by the sheer size of the agridrone. According to Luciano Castro, director of the company, in the course of the development of the device, they did not find other similar models worldwide.
The Eleva Spray 150, dubbed superdrone, has the capacity to carry 80 kilos of spray supplies, against 15 kilos of competitors. It should reach the market at a price of $400,000 Brazilian Real or approximately US$110,000.
The superdrone is unique, he said, in that the source of energy for operation is gas, whereas most drones are operated with battery power. In addition, the superdrone can be deployed at night, while other agricultural aircraft only operate during the day.
Castro explains that this is an advantage because it represents greater autonomy. “Flying at night has gained importance because many pests have nocturnal habits. With this, spraying tends to be more effective,” he told globo.com.
Eighteen people participated in product development, which is still a prototype. The expectation of the company, however, is to make it available for sale next year and deliver the first orders between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
Using a hybrid liquid fuel with electric propulsion, it runs on ethanol or gasoline. It has two central and two outer motors, which help in steering and support. In order to mitigate risk of engine failure, the drone also carries batteries.
Luciano explained that the idea was born of a dream of himself and of two other friends, who became partners. Aeronautical engineers, they were reunited after years of training and decided to take a bet on the agricultural drone market, which has dispalying consistent trends. A decade ago, they founded the company to develop solutions for aerial agriculture. With the collaboration of professionals from Manaus, Goiânia and São José do Rio Preto, it seems their bet is now paying off.