Let’s face it. Talk about biodiversity loss at a party and you’re unlikely to make friends. Talk about a fleet of seed-firing drones, however, and suddenly you’re the coolest person there.
Well, believe it or not, an Australian start-up is doing exactly that. Using highly advanced 'octocopters', AirSeed Technology is fighting deforestation by combining artificial intelligence with specially designed seed pods which can be fired into the ground from the sky.
"Each of our drones can plant over 40,000 seed pods per day and they fly autonomously," says Andrew Walker, CEO and co-founder of AirSeed Technologies. "In comparison to traditional methodologies, that's 25 times faster, but also 80 percent cheaper."
Before takeoff, each drone hopper is loaded with specially selected seed pods compatible with the habitat below. These pods are manufactured using waste biomass, providing a carbon rich coating that protects the seeds from birds, insects and rodents.
"The niche really lies in our biotech, which is the support system for the seed once it's on the ground," says Walker. “It protects the seed from different types of wildlife, but also supports the seed once it germinates and really helps deliver all of those nutrients and mineral sources that it needs, along with some probiotics to really boost early-stage growth."
Once airborne, the drones navigate fixed flight paths, planting to predefined patterns and recording each seeds' coordinates - allowing AirSeed to assess the health of their trees as they grow.
"We're being very mindful of the fact that we need to restore soil health, we need to restore microbial communities within the soil, and we need to restore primary habitat providers for animals,” continues Walker, who believes the sky's the limit for the drone-based technology.
The company aims to plant a total of 100 million by 2024.
Today's OGN Sunday magazine articles