A former NASA engineer has found a billion new uses for the drones that are becoming somewhat of an unwelcome piece of flying technology in the airspace over the cities and urban neighborhoods of the nation. Using the drones to plant 1 billion trees each year in a biocarbon engineering effort to replenish the planet’s natural vegetation sounds like a tall order, but Lauren Fletcher will lead a team that is aiming to do just that, according to The Christian Science Monitor on April 28.
Each year 46 to 58 thousand square miles of forest is destroyed which is the equivalent to an area the size of 36 football fields gone every minute of the day. Using drones on the frontline in the battle of deforestation can reverse one of the biggest problems facing the planet today, suggest Yahoo News.
Hand planting just can’t keep up with the rate that trees are being cut down, which has been one of the two techniques used in the traditional effort in replacing lost vegetation in the past. The other technique used for planting trees is seed dropping, but that doesn’t offer precision planting and has shown a “low rate of success,” according to Fletcher.
By using a drone you combine the precision of hand planting with the speed and cost effectiveness of dropping seeds. Another plus for the drones is their ability to get into areas that humans have no way of getting to. Fletcher’s start-up company, Exile, is making headline news today by undertaking this monumental task of replenishing the forests of the planet.
Using the drones for the biocarbon engineering planting method entails three different trips to an area where trees will be planted. During the first trip the drones map out the area and a 3-D map is created for Fletcher and his team to decide where to plant the seeds. Next the drones are sent out to do the planting and finally the last trip allows the drones to check on the progress of these tree plantings.
Drones won’t just fly over the soil and then just drop the seeds from a lower height than a plane or a helicopter would, the drones are equipped with pressurized air canisters that force the seeds into the soil. These cannot be just any drones, they need to be able to carry a work load of 17.5 pounds with the seeds and pressurized air. A company called VulcanUAV manufactures industrial drones capable of carrying that much weight has teamed up with Fletcher and his group.
The drones are scheduled to start next year planting trees in either Brazil or South Africa. “The key is to make sure the trees grow properly,” said Fletcher about the massive new venture awaiting them all over the world. A successful maiden voyage will go a long way when it comes to securing funding from world’s governments to continue with this venture all over the globe, planting one billion trees a year!