Review of Ukrainian agricultural drones. Part 1

Ukraine is a very attractive market for drone application. Why? There are currently 2 reasons: the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and the rapid development of agriculture.

Who does create drones for the agricultural sector in Ukraine? What models are available on the market? How do they differ? Read the series of our publications!

For the record

world market of services with use of UAV`s

Market structure

The history of many models of Ukrainian agricultural drones began in 2013-2014. The war in eastern Ukraine and, later, the development of precision farming became the main boost.

Unmanned aerial vehicles can make a big difference in precision farming. They are used for the purpose of monitoring, precise field measurements, and as an instrument for creating, prescription maps for instance, for the further differentiated nitrogen fertilization. In this regard, Ukraine is running about a few years behind Europe and the U.S. where the boom of agricultural drones took place in the early 2010s.

Four segments of the agricultural drone market can be distinguished in Ukraine:

  • domestic manufacturers of UAVs;
  • companies that assemble drones using complementary parts (usually Chinese);
  • distributors and sellers of foreign drones;
  • service companies that provide services using UAVs.

At this point, only a few Ukrainian companies create their own drones. Nevertheless, some of them are able to compete with foreign analogs not only by price but also on their capabilities.

Service companies are the integrators of unmanned systems. They allow to familiarize with the technology in practice and to test its effectiveness on your own enterprise.

ITEC SKIF

The Kyiv company ITEC started with manufacturing UAVs for the intelligence community. As for today, apart from the army unmanned aerial vehicle “Patriot”, ITEC produces a model SKIF which is designed for agriculture.

SKIF s an fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle; it is powered by an electric motor and launched by an elastic catapult.

ITEC SKIF

ITEC SKIF

This is a compact drone: its weight is 3.6 kg and the wingspan is 1.5 m. It can go up to 400 meters and stay in the sky for up to two hours.

SKIF is capable of covering and taking pictures of 1,500 hectares in one flight.

  • build high-precision orthophotomaps;
  • measure the fields with an accuracy of 5-10 cm!

The camera has a protective cap that shields it from damages whilst drone landing.

SKIF landing is effected with a parachute system.

The model is equipped with a GPS beacon. Therefore, the UAV location can be tracked with a mobile phone or through a GPS monitoring system on a computer.

UAV SKIF, preparation for launching

UAV SKIF, preparation for launching

SKIF can speed up to 70 km/h and fly within a radius of 50 km; such characteristics are impressive for agricultural drones.

Pre-flight setting up is carried out with a laptop and special software. This model has the substantial advantage – its work is completely autonomous. An operator adjusts the flight track, launches a drone and then only controls the flight. The software enables a drone to fly round and take pictures independently in automatic mode. That way, operator’s intervention is minimized and the accuracy of work is improved.

ITEC goes on to develop a new line of SKIF drones. In view of the specific needs of agrarians, today there are the following models in addition to the basic version:

SKIF RTK a model designed for field measurements. It allows to receive GPS signal correction using RTK and to shoot photos with a positioning accuracy of up to 20 cm.

SKIF NDVI a model equipped with a multispectral camera Mapir Survey 3. It is a solution for the more effective crop condition monitoring.

SKIF MAPPER a model with the additional land surveying equipment. It helps to make high-quality orthophotomaps with a centimeter accuracy.

Depending on the modifications, the cost of the complex SKIF varies from 300 000 to 500 000 UAH.

The complex itself consists of the following components:

complication of UAV SKIF

MegaDrone. SkyHunter MD-1

MegaDrone is the young team from Lviv that is engaged in the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles since 2016. The company produces drones SkyHunter MD-1 and MD-2 which are an upgraded version that was introduced in October 2017

Apart from SkyHunter, the MegaDrone model range has two hexacopter models: MD SMART и MD LITE.

By using SkyHunter MD-1, you can create orthophotomaps, apply Trichogramma, conduct field measurements, and calculate vegetation indices (for example, in the data processing service DroneDeploy). Today, these are, virtually, the primary tasks for agricultural drones.

The UAV is equipped with two electric motors and its wingspan is 1.8 meter. It is able to lift up to 0.5 kg of payload to a height of 500 meters.

The manufacturer recommends shooting photos from the height of 150 meters above the ground. At this height, the camera Canon s110, which comes with MD-1, is capable of taking images with a resolution of 6-7 cm per pixel. Depending on the desired quality of a photo, SkyHunter MD-1 can cover an area of 600 to 1200 hectares in one flight.

The flight of SkyHunter MD-1, as well as of the UAV SKIF, is fully automated and follows a given route.

megadrone-md-1

SkyHunter MD-1

SkyHunter MD-1 a simple device that does not require a special equipment for launching. It is launched from the hand and lands right on the fuselage. MD-1 can stay in the air up to two hours flying away from an operator up to 45 kilometers

Due to its simplicity, multifunctionality and relatively low cost starting from 69 000 UAH depending on a complectation), SkyHunter MD-1 can become a UAV of the “first choice”, especially, for small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises..

megadrone-md-1

SkyHunter MD-1, view from above

Matrix UAV. Katana-agro

Matrix UAV the project that emerged in the environment of the volunteer movement. Within three years, after being the producer of homemade UAVs, the team managed to become the manufacturer of original drones of different application.

«Katana» was created as a military drone but owing to its characteristics, it became a marketable drone on the agrarian market.

As for now, Matrix UAV pays more attention to agriculture. Following the “Katana” agricultural modification, it launched the heavy, multifunctional platform “Comandor” that is designated for the application of plant protection products.

matrix-uav-katana-agro

Matrix UAV Katana-agro

«Katana-agro» is a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle that is easy to handle and maintain. The first functional purpose of the UAV, military intelligence, played a significant role in this regard. It was created under the principle “launched and forgot”. Operator only needs to draw a flight plan on the screen of a tablet with his finger, turn on the power supply and launch the UAV. A vehicle itself in automatic mode will perform the rest – a take-off, en-route flight, realization of a flight assignment, and landing. At the same time, the operator can handle a drone during the flight in manual mode.

“Katana-agro” has a reported flying range in a circle of up to 60 km and can stay in the air for up to 50 minutes. Today, the cost of the complex, which includes 2 UAVs, starts from 300 000 UAH.

What to choose?

Ukrainian market of agricultural drones is only emerging. Technologies are actively developing, while new teams and projects are appearing on the market. It can confidently be assumed that in five years, the list of domestic manufacturers will include dozens of companies with hundreds of different UAV models. Later on, the spread of precision farming practices will promote the development of the agricultural drone market.

These days we can talk about several Ukrainian teams that create their own drones especially for agriculture, namely, ITEC, AeroDrone, MegaDrone, Matrix UAV, Kray Technologies, AgriEYE, and AgroDrone.

Drones cannot be exploited to the utmost if the personnel has not received training how to use drones, process and interpret obtained data. That is why an integrated approach should be used for making a choice.

We are already preparing the in-depth material that will tell how to choose the right agricultural drone and what should be paid attention to by an agrarian when choosing. So far, here is a brief comparison of Ukrainian agricultural drones that are presented in our review.

comparison of ukrainian agricultural drones

ITEC SKIF the most automated and protected Ukrainian drone. It has several modifications of vehicles that are used for various purposes; it is easy to use and has a high productivity. This is a reliable drone for big manufacturers and agricultural holdings.

MegaDrone SkyHunter MD-1 a universal drone of the “first choice” for small and medium-sized enterprises. This drone is the best cost-competitive option; it has a wide range of application and a low cost of repair and maintenance.

Matrix UAV «Katana-agro» a lightweight drone for small and medium-sized enterprises. It is functional but more expensive in comparison with SkyHunter MD-1.

In the next part of our agricultural drone review, we will tell you about large vehicles from Ukrainian manufacturers that are able to carry out the application of plant protection products. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so as not to miss our updates!

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