Aerospace & Defense

Amazon's $20,000 Drone

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will use drones to deliver packages to people’s homes and businesses. It has introduced one that can be used for home security. The e-commerce company sells one to customers that is much more complex and expensive than anything it sells. The huge flying machine is for agricultural use, primarily to spray crops.

The SHIYANLI 6 axis 15 Liter Agriculture UAV 15kg Drone GPS with Autonomous Flight Joyance Crop Sprayer costs $19,728.39. Shipping is an extra $4.99. The video feed from the drone allows farmers to survey hundreds of square acres of crops and livestock. This saves days, and perhaps weeks, of inspection via tractor or on foot. Some are equipped with 3D cameras to allow verification of how tall crops are. They also can look for flooded areas that might cause severe crop damage.

The most sophisticated drones stream video back to the operator live instead of storing it to be viewed when the drone lands. These streaming devices operate much the way a GoPro camera does. Several of the highest-end drones can be controlled from a smartphone with a downloaded app.

The most sophisticated agricultural drones have software for complex analysis. This covers plant height, plant count, plant health, presence of nutrients, presence of disease, presence of weeds, relative biomass estimates and 3D/volumetric data (piles, patches, holes and hills).

This drone can carry insecticide that can be dropped via the operator’s controls.

To cover a large area accurately, agricultural drones fly fixed grids so no portion of their survey can be missed.

Shandong Joyance Intelligence Technology is a company based in Shandong, China. It has been in the complex drone business since 2013.