The past few years have seen increases in drone use-- from recreational flying, consumer deliveries, military transport and even agriculture.
“The way we see a drone is more like a flying tractor. And tractors have several uses. And they're well known and you buy a tractor that can take care of what it needs to do in your farm,” said Professor Cal Coopmans, who runs the AggieAir lab at Utah State University.
Last week, the lab demonstrated it’s newest aircraft—GreatBlue. Coopman said although drones may be a large investment for a farm, the varitey applications they have make them a worthwhile investment.
For example, GreatBlue can collect information by taking images of the land below while in the air. This images can be pieced together later.
“When the drone lands, there would be information there that would help the farmer farm more efficiently in this case, save water or make sure the plants have a high health Index, this kind of thing,” said Coopmans.
Students in the drone minor at USU explore a variety of uses for drones beyond agricultural ones. And in the future, the school plans to offer a drone major.
“They're legally licensed drone pilots, but they have this extra training, from aviators," said Coopmans. "And that's what is going to be required to do the next 20 years of drone flight, we need people who can interface with the drones.”