VineView-SAI Inc., a St. Helena, Calif.-based remote sensing company, has partnered with SkySquirrel Technologies Inc. (SST), a commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS) company based in Nova Scotia, Canada, to create a specialized vineyard UAS.
VineView and SkySquirrel debuted their Aqweo agricultural drone in Napa Valley, Calif., on Nov. 13 at The Concept Bar at Rootstock, the Napa Valley Grape Growers’ trade exhibition.
VineView says it has contributed its 15 years of experience in remote sensing of vineyards and other high-value crops to the development of a fully integrated drone system for high-resolution imaging of vineyards, citrus and nut crops.
SST has been developing and testing its drone system for the past 2.5 years, says VineView. “What we see missing in the current drone marketplace is a commercial-grade UAS delivering a turnkey aerial imaging solution for growers,” says Tim Stekkinger, SST CEO and co-founder.
“This breakthrough product will allow the user to collect accurate, consistent measurements of crop conditions and upload them to a cloud environment for automatic data processing,” he explains. “The resulting maps will go far beyond basic vigor mapping and can be viewed in the field from a tablet device.”
The Aqwero system will become available in Europe, Canada and South America early next year; availability in the U.S. depends on Federal Aviation Administration restrictions currently under review, according to VineView.
“Partnering with SST allows us to bring the technologies we’ve developed to new markets, as well as provide additional options for our current customers,” says Matt Staid, president of VineView. “Canada has been a leader in supporting the commercial use and testing of unmanned aircraft, allowing us to start using this new platform sooner than would otherwise be possible.”