Aerial Technology International (ATI) announced it is expanding its line of sensor options for ATI AgBOT with the introduction of the Raptor Module. Aimed at providing an affordable aerial robotic solution for bird control, the Raptor Module emits sonic patterns mimicking various birds of prey.

Bird control is vital for protecting vineyards and other high value crops, but has been traditionally difficult to manage. Nuisance birds learn patterns quickly, rendering ground-based emitters ineffective after a short time. Falconers often have time constraints and are not always a cost effective solution.

"By alternating preset flight patterns above valuable crops and mimicking a number of different predatory birds, we believe the Raptor Module will prove its effectiveness in the 2016 growing season," said ATI CEO Stephen Burtt. Birds have the ability to eat up to their body weight in food every day and in certain circumstances can cause up to a 50% crop loss.

Based in WIlsonville, Ore., ATI's flagship multirotor, the ATI AgBOT, was initially designed for agricultural NDVI mapping using the MicaSense RedEdge.  ATI is working towards making the AgBOT a  multi-use tool by offering modular payloads for a variety of farm specific applications including infrared/thermal, hi definition visual inspection and multispectral analysis.

A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report estimates that drones used for precision agriculture may generate $82 billion in economic activity between now and 2025. Burtt says that "consumer based drones have sparked interest from the ag markets, but due to mass production and limited capabilities, we are really staring to see the industry demand professional grade unmanned aircraft that are application specific."