The other day I was driving home from the gym - for my farm readers that's a place where deskbound city people go to "get exercise" - since I don’t have a farm. Anyway, we drove through a wooded area and there was a group of people by the road. Didn't think anything of it until after I passed and looked in my rearview mirror and saw a remote unmanned aerial vehicle - yep it was a drone.
The Internet is filling fast with great farm, and other, videos of these high-flying machines capturing stunning images. Global disasters are now almost always accompanied by aerial photography that at one time would have cost a fortune because a helicopter would have been required. Today, we almost expect those aerial visuals.
But agriculture is where these tools will shine, as soon as the Federal Aviation Administration gets its act together. And in anticipation of that, for 2015 the Farm Progress Show in Decatur is adding a special UAV demonstration area. Yep, the drones are coming to Decatur.
We struggle with the term drone - you all use it regularly - we want to be more correct in saying Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - or Unmanned Aerial System (because the vehicle is only as good as the software that supports it). But drone is good shorthand. It's just a challenge.
So here are some interesting details you'll want to note for your trip to the Farm Progress Show which runs Sept. 1, 2 and 3 this year.
First the demonstration area will be at the south end of Central Avenue just outside the fence, and about 100 yards from the new South Varied Industries Tent - which is part of a big expansion for this year's show.
Second, demonstrations start after 9 a.m. and will end by 4 p.m. The demo will show the vehicle in the air, and the exhibitor can address the audience to describe the features of the technology. For more in-depth information beyond that discussion, attendees will have to visit exhibitors on their site to learn more about the camera and the software for each system.
Third, the demo area is open to any Farm Progress Show exhibitor. The number of drones for demonstration won't be known until show time
So we're getting real about UAVs. Given the flooding this year, having a quick aerial view of the extent of the damage (which you can actually measure to the nearest inch with these systems) would be good for figuring replant, or insurance claims. And that's just the start to the value of these machines.
If you're heading to Decatur, make this demonstration area part of your day.