Idaho company hopes for agricultural drone approval

vineyard drone
Students fly a research drone over Bitner Vineyards in Caldwell, Idaho

You can buy drones, but you can’t fly them – not legally, not yet.

Brad Ward made that point this week at a University of Idaho forum on geographic information systems. Ward is co-owner of Advanced Aviation Solutions LLC, or Adavso, a Star company seeking to become an authorized user of commercial drones in agriculture…

Ward introduced several drones – varying in size from less than 2 pounds to 8 tons – describing their costs, availability, capabilities and uses in agriculture. He then told his listeners about the spider web of legalities surrounding their use.

Although all could be called unmanned aircraft systems or drones, the names can describe some very different aircraft, he said.

“One is 16,000 pounds, flies over 50,000 feet for 32 hours and is very large, bigger than a 737,” Ward said. “The other is one and a half pounds, you literally shake it three times and the motor starts, and you’re ready to go.”

It’s unfortunate that the poor reputation of the military drone has been applied to the tiny crafts with various commercial uses, Ward said. “And that’s where the FAA came in,” he said.

Most unmanned aircraft cannot be used as intended at this point, except by hobbyists and for research and emergency response by not-for-profit educational and governmental organizations, Edgar said.

Though not linked solely to the American Persona, our character as a nation is thoroughly distorted by both libertarian and religious threads in our history that seem always to link the uses of a device to the device itself. Though, the literate in our society have at least learned to use the term “Luddite” appropriately.

Those so accused usually try to disabuse themselves by countering with a straw man argument like, “I’m not against all technology – just this one!” Completely missing the point of a Luddite definition – which says the technology is to blame for something people do with it. Genetically-modified botanicals or animals being the strongest example in current trends.

RTFA for the hopes and desires of someone simply trying to make a buck from aiding agriculturists in their business. Flying drones over crops to record data which will aid production and quality.

Our government in turn will regulate any use to death rather than try to understand what can be safely accomplished and how. We’re back to laws which required those newfangled automobiles to be preceded along the road by a man carrying a warning lantern.

Thanks, Mike

Shopping in a Twizy

A little less than four years ago, the first 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car was delivered to eager buyer Olivier Chalouhi in San Francisco.

Earlier this month, Nissan and its partner the French carmaker Renault delivered their 200,000th electric car.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance now claims a 58-percent share of the market for vehicles with no tailpipe emissions.

And it doesn’t bother sales at all – in most of the world – to roll out a commercial showing a couple of Formula One drivers galavanting around one of the biggest shopping malls in the world – in a couple of Twizys. Renault’s cutesy electric city car – the smallest of the four electric models they offer.