NEW YORK: Focus on agriculture

By UAS Magazine Staff | October 15, 2014

The Griffiss International Airport unmanned aerial system (UAS) test site in Rome, New York, went operational Aug. 7. It is teamed with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, a New York nonprofit coalition of more than 40 private and public entities and academic institutions.

NUAIR operates and manages UAS test sites in New York and Massachusetts. It will evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal and multispectral equipment. The research will enhance current methods of monitoring crops and provide additional information for continuing field research efforts.

The FAA granted the Griffiss International Airport team a two-year certificate of authorization to use a PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS. The Lancaster Platform weighs approximately three pounds and has a wingspan of 4 feet. In early September, NUAIR partners Cornell Cooperative Extension and Precision Hawk conducted flight tests in western New York.

The site’s projects include using UAS for the detection of insects, weeds, diseases, crop characteristics, crop biomass and background soil characteristics in two farm fields. Flights will take place at or below 400 feet, and will last up to 60 minutes from takeoff to landing.

They will also collect geospatially referenced imagery as part of the agricultural research. Eventually, the site also will manage unmanned agricultural research flights from Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

In addition, the Griffiss team plans to work on developing test and evaluation processes under FAA safety oversight, and conduct research on sense-and-avoid capabilities to prevent collisions with other manned and unmanned aircraft.