The German Start-up Volocopter, known for its Urban Air Mobility, has designed a giant drone in partnership with John Deere, the agricultural equipment specialist. For the first time, the demonstrator equipped with the John Deere crop protection sprayer will be presented in the Agritechnica Future Technology Zone.
Agrritechnica is home to the largest European agricultural machinery fair in Hannover, Germany, every year. The latter welcomes more than 2,750 exhibitors from some 50 countries. This year, drones should be in the spotlight. Indeed, they are increasingly taken into account in the agricultural and forestry sectors.
The VoloDrone is powered by 18 rotors and has a diameter of 9.2 meters. It has a fully electric drive with swappable lithium-ion batteries. A battery charge allows a flight time of up to 30 minutes. The VoloDrone can be operated both remotely or automatically on a pre-programmed route.
It is equipped with a “standardized and flexible payload attachment system,” allowing it to carry up to 200 kg of payload. This attachment allows for easy installation of a wide variety of devices for a variety of uses.
For plant protection, the large drone is equipped with two pesticide containers, a pump, and a spray bar – all provided by John Deere. Volocopter says the low altitude at which the drone can fly allows it to cover larger areas, up to six hectares/hour on any type of terrain, while its electric drive system makes it a more viable solution compared to a small unmanned aerial sprayer.
Spraying seems to be the primary application for this machine with Volocopter, however, to note that its use could extend to both frost control and sowing. VoloDrone is currently making its first flights and testing VoloDrone in real-time under real conditions. The two partnering companies stress that they intend to make the model available in the coming months.