One week after revealing a cargo drone variant of its electric multicopter, Volocopter has announced a collaboration with John Deere to deploy the VoloDrone in agricultural operations.
The companies are presenting the VoloDrone equipped with a John Deere crop protection sprayer at the Agritechnica trade show, Nov. 10-16 in Hanover, Germany. The aircraft is being pitched as “a sustainable, precise, and cost-effective alternative to helicopters” for tasks including spraying, sowing seeds, and frost control.
Derived from Volocopter’s eVTOL air taxis, the VoloDrone is powered by 18 rotors with an overall diameter of 9.2 meters (30 feet). It can carry a payload of up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds), and fly up to 30 minutes on a single charge of its exchangeable lithium-ion batteries, according to Volocopter.
The VoloDrone’s frame is equipped with a standardized payload attachment system, allowing different devices to be mounted on the frame depending on the application. For crop protection, the drone is equipped with two tanks, a pump, and a spray bar.
Volocopter and John Deere expect to be able to cover up to six hectares (15 acres) per hour using the low-flying VoloDrone, which can be remotely piloted or flown automatically on a pre-programmed route. “Due to the system’s high flexibility and GPS control, more selective area-specific treatments are also possible,” the companies noted.
Flight and application tests with the VoloDrone sprayer are planned for the next growing season.