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Infrared images collected by drones, such as this SiCS-10 model from Guided Systems Technologies, could show peanut farmers the heat or water content of their plants and help them pinpoint the optimal time to pick peanuts, which could improve flavor.

During a recent 10-minute flight, a camera attached to an unmanned helicopter took multispectral images of peanut and cotton crops that farmers can use to detect disease or other problems.

It’s one of the test flights of unmanned helicopters from Stockbridge, Ga.-based military drone maker Guided Systems Technologies that began in June—a project underwritten by a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Centers of Innovation for Aerospace and Agribusiness. Researchers from the University of Georgia Tifton campus and Middle Georgia State College also are involved.

“This is absolutely a sweet spot for us,” said Steve Justice, director of the Center of Innovation for Aerospace.

For Georgia, agriculture is worth $60 billion a year and aerospace $50 billion a year, so Justice says if unmanned aircraft drive economic development for both, “it’s a huge win from the start.”

In this nascent market, “Our goal is to be the leader in the Southeast, if not the nation,” he said.

Image courtesy of Guided Systems Technologies

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