Geo Week News

January 22, 2014

Trimble targets ag sector with UAV system


Need to locate missing cattle? Trimble’s UX5 can help

Trimble Navigation said Tuesday it added its UX5 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to its agriculture product portfolio for aerial imaging and mapping.

The Trimble UX5 system allows agronomists, Trimble resellers, water management contractors, and other ag service providers to capture aerial images for scouting and monitoring crop health, including pest and invasive weed detection and deficiencies in nitrogen. The system can also generate topographic maps and models for land leveling and drainage applications. One novel application for ranchers is using the UX5 to locate cattle and available forage over large areas.

The UX5 can fly up to 80 kilometers per hour and remains stable in significant crosswinds and even light rain, Trimble said. In a single 50-minute flight, the UX5 system can cover a two-square-kilometer area at five-centimeter image resolution. The system also includes a modified digital camera that captures the near-infrared spectrum to help deduce vegetation indexes for crop health assessment.

The post-flight processed images from just one flight includes geo-referenced images, a digital surface model (DSM) showing elevations as a color image, and a 3D point cloud that includes elevations.

“The addition of the Trimble UX5 system strengthens our agriculture product portfolio and enables us to provide a solution that benefits a broad range of customers includin” said Joe Denniston, vice president of Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “High-speed aerial imaging is a powerful tool that can quickly and easily locate problem areas to be addressed. The faster a problem area is discovered, the better the chance it can be evaluated and resolved before crop yield is impacted.”

UAS, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently not allowed to be flown for commercial applications in the United States but are widely used in Canada, parts of Europe and Australia.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has a legislative mandate to develop and implement operational and certification requirements for the operation and integration of UAVs in the nation’s airspace by Dec. 31, 2015. Last month, the FAA announced six states where UAS will be tested and studied to develop policies and procedures for integration in 2015 into the nation’s air space, where over 100,000 flights happen everyday.

Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Trimble generated sales of $2 billion in 2012 selling positioning technologies – GPS, lasers and optics – that focus on applications requiring position or location, including surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping.

Trimble’s agriculture division is a pioneer in precision agriculture, offering GPS and guidance hardware and software, including application control for seed, liquid and granular products, and laser- and GPS-based water management technology.

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