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Seen & Heard: Greenhouse pest drone, COVID-19 vaccination drop

March 25, 2021  - By

“Seen & Heard” is a monthly feature of GPS World magazine, traveling the world to capture interesting and unusual news stories involving the GNSS/PNT industry.


Screenshot: PATS Indoor Drone Solutions video

Screenshot: PATS Indoor Drone Solutions video

Seeking out (tiny) aerial threats

Palm-sized drones are eliminating greenhouse pests in the Netherlands, reports the Associated Press. The drones seek out and destroy moths that produce crop-eating caterpillars. Tech startup PATS Indoor Drone Solutions uses drones as greenhouse sentinels. Cameras scan the airspace, and then steer the drones to fly into moths, destroying them in midair. The drone control system can distinguish between good and bad insects. The system is the brainchild of former students from the Delft University of Technology.


Photo: Skydio

Photo: Skydio

Coming soon to a police department near you

Drone-maker Skydio claims to be shipping the most advanced artificial intelligence-powered drone ever built, reports Forbes. The Skydio X2 is scheduled to launch later this year. The quadcopter reportedly can latch onto targets and follow them, dodging all sorts of obstacles and capturing everything on high-quality video. It can fly in tight, tactical situations, such as inside buildings or through a forest. Skydio claims its software can even predict a target’s next move, whether pedestrian or vehicle. American-made, the Skydio is popular with police departments and is often used for defense.


The Loyal Wingman in its first test flight. (Photo: U.S. Air Force 88th Air Wing Public Affairs)

The Loyal Wingman in its first test flight. (Photo: U.S. Air Force 88th Air Wing Public Affairs)

Fighter jets to get a sidekick

A military drone that will accompany fighter jets into combat flew its maiden voyage at the end of February. The Loyal Wingman, designed by Boeing Australia for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), uses artificial intelligence to target enemies. The Loyal Wingman is about the same size as the F-35 jet it will fly alongside. It has a range of 3,700 kilometers. The plane was flown from the ground control station at the Woomera Range Complex in the outback. The RAAF plans to buy three of the drones.


Photo: Zipline

Photo: Zipline

COVID-19 vaccinations air-dropped in Ghana

Ghana has launched a nationwide program that uses Zipline drones to deliver coronavirus vaccines to rural communities. Deliveries began March 2 under the COVAX program of the World Health Organization (WHO), which aims to provide poorer countries with enough doses to cover 20% of their populations. Zipline has been delivering medical supplies (blood, personal protective equipment, vaccines) since 2016 using its patented, autonomous drones.

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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