Speakers from NASA, the Navy, and Northrup-Grumman, along with Peterson’s own Lead Agronomist, Adam Spelhaug, gathered together last week at the 2nd annual Drone Focus Conference. With North Dakota being nationally recognized as one of the leading areas in drone technology, the Fargo-held conference focused on the rapidly expanding drone industry and the role drones play not only in agricultural advancement, but the social, medical, civic, and economic impact new drone programs could have.
The range of topics and speakers at the conference included John Cavolowsky, Director of NASA’s Airspace Operations and Safety Program who gave his thoughts on safely implementing drones into US airspace, and Adam Spelhaug, our own Lead Agronomist and who was honored with five minutes to present on drone use in Agriculture to the 300-plus attendees.
“We are still in the infancy of this technology, but many advances have come in the last 3 years I’ve been involved with it. The first year the technology was slow and it took time to interpret the images we received,” Adam says. “Today, we can see a stitched map of the field within 30 minutes of flying.”
A student-focused pitch contest was also held at the conference, giving students from 5 universities the opportunity to come up with a 3-to-5 minute presentation detailing their ideas for a successful drone venture company, which they then presented to a panel of judges.
A wide range of ideas were presented, from utilizing a drone to deliver blood and plasma from Fargo to Bismarck, underground sewer inspections, search and rescue by mounting a specialized microphone to a drone, map storage, and finally, a vertical takeoff and landing airplane design.
It is an exciting time to be involved in the drone industry and with an announcement from the FAA regarding commercial use expected to come this month, the excitement and possibilities for use of drones in agriculture and beyond means the sky is the limit!