A Dutch startup has reportedly engaged in automated drone warfare, albeit on a miniature scale, protecting sensitive crops inside greenhouses from the menace of wayward moths.
The company, PATS Indoor Drone Solutions, was the brainchild of former students from the Technical University in Delft, who wondered whether they could use miniature drones to kill the mosquitoes buzzing around their dorm rooms at night.
Fast forward a few years and they have developed a prototype armada of aerial drones to kill moths. They’re currently testing the drones at a greenhouse which is used for growing aromatic seedlings, exotic plants and flowers for use in upmarket restaurants around the world.
Given the types of plants in question, and the clients who buy them, pesticides are out of the question, which is where the drones come in.
The somewhat basic, miniature drones are steered by smart tech and guided by special cameras that scan the airspace within greenhouses, keeping an ever-watchful eye for mischievous moths.
Once a target is acquired, one of the palm-sized drone homes in on a direct collision course and destroys the moth with its rotor blades.
“So it sees the moth flying by, it knows where the drone is … and then it just directs the drone towards the moth,” said PATS chief technical officer Kevin van Hecke.
The company also claims that its system can distinguish between “good” and “bad” bugs, such as helpful ladybugs and destructive caterpillars. They propose that, in years to come, the system may well provide a viable alternative to pesticides, when combined with other “good bugs,” pheromone traps and bumblebees.
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