South Africa aerial-data analytics startup, Aerobotics has launched five new innovative agriculture products, which will be released next week.
The startup launched the new products yesterday at an event held at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards in Franschhoek, near Cape Town.
The new products which according to Aerobotics CEO and co-founder James Paterson said are an industry first include, a drone scouting application, software that allows for automated problem detection, an application that uses artificial intelligence (AI) generated scouting routes, another that enables AI-enabled disease identification and an intuitive reporting tool.
Speaking at the event, Paterson, whose parents run a citrus farm in Citrusdal, said up to 15% of farmer losses can be attributed to pests and disease.The five products will be rolled out next week.
He said the new products will enable farmers to identify and focus on unhealthy trees and vines, and by doing so help decrease time spent looking for these problems on their farms as well as decrease yield loss.
85% of the startup’s client are based in South Africa, while the startup is working with partners in Spain, France and Portugal. Paterson said Aerobotics had carried out operations on commercial farms in Kenya, Tanzania as well as Malawi. He added that the startup has plans to expand to West Africa. However, he emphasised that the startup’s focus is currently on South Africa and the US.
Aerobotics’ Drone Scouting App makes use of high-resolution sub-millimetre images of stressed trees or vines. These images are then run through Aerobotics’ first-ever tree and crop vineyard pest and disease detection database.
Pests and disease are then identified using AI and machine learning, with the results communicated to the farmer via push notification.
In addition, Aerobotics’ Aeroview system will now automatically generate scout routes for farmers using AI.
Once the system has automatically detected problem trees that need further investigation and a scout route has been planned using AI technology, Aerobotic’s Drone Scouting Application will send the route to a drone.
The drone will take off and fly a custom-designed mission, locating trees which have been identified as experiencing stress. The drone will come down to about a metre above the tree to take a high-resolution image at leaf-specific detail. This will then be uploaded to Aerobotics’ pest and disease database.