FutureWater’s partner HiView has completed the prototype of their latest innovation, the Rapid Eye XS. This ultra light drone is designed in the first place for the use in small scale agriculture, but has many other potential applications. It can process NDVI imagery on-board, and is very easy to use. FutureWater played a prominent role in the development of this revolutionary system, partly thanks to the TWIGA project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The prototype of the Rapid Eye XS is equipped with a Raspberry Pi near-infrared camera that can be used to monitor crop performance. It can be launched very quickly using a single button on the remote control. It has a return-to-home function to make sure the drone will always find its way back.
Once airborne the camera can be triggered through a radio connection, with a range up to 400 meters. Right after capturing the image at a typical height of 120 meters, an NDVI map is produced on the fly in as little as 12 seconds.
A global premiere: NDVI processing on board
Shortly after landing, the NDVI map can be downloaded in-field on any mobile phone or tablet through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and can be viewed instantly in the field, without needing complex time-demanding processing skills that are usually required.
Easy-to-understand colors on the map indicate healthy and problematic zones, which the agronomic pilot assesses in the field right away, together with the farmer. In this way the map is used to provide real time advisory to farmers on how to improve their crop growth.
Real time in- field advisory
As these farmers usually have limited access to resources and are often hindered in their access to information, this real time advisory will help improve their farming practices and increase their yield and water productivity.
Agronomists and farmers from all over the world are already responding very positively to the first prototype of this innovative small scale drone. By downgrading the performance requirements and with a cost price of just a few hundred euros, the Rapid Eye XS is going to be a real game-changer for smallholder farmers in developing countries.