Farmers Insurance Dedicates ‘Roof Farm’ Space to Drone Testing

Commercial drone operator and major U.S. insurer Farmers Insurance has announced the grand opening of a new “roof farm,” which includes a space for testing drones.

Located in Olathe, Kan., the research project is designed to help determine how different roofing materials are impacted by weather and aging in real-world conditions. Farmers is collaborating with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit industry research and communications association, on the project.

The roof farm is made up of five 15′ x 15′ roof structures, one of which will be used for various training and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) testing. (The other four, dedicated to weather testing, will be suited with multiple panels that will be evaluated over time to determine which roofing materials are better equipped to resist weather damage and how they are impacted by climate. Weather conditions for the structures will be monitored by an on-site weather station, which collects data on wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and incoming solar radiation.)

“This research project is a tremendous opportunity for Farmers and IBHS to gather additional information about roofing materials that may help homeowners save money on roof repairs and replacements,” says Tim Felks, head of property claims for Farmers Insurance.

A few months ago, Farmers, having conducted drone field tests, announced it would be enlisting a fleet of UAS to enhance the claims process for residential customers who have suffered significant damage to their roof following major weather events. The company’s initial fleet of drones is being provided by Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kespry.

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