Q/A With DropCopter
“In early 2015, we completed our patent pending prototype, and conducted the first ever UAS pollination of orchards crops, boosting crop set by 10%.”
Hometown: Corning, California
Team Size: 6 team members
Focus: Software/Hardware - Aerial Pollination for Agriculture
Describe Your Team in a few Words:
Tell us about your company:
Our mission is automated pollination of orchard crops via unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); farming efficiency, the promotion of new technologies, and healthy crop yield growth.
Every year flowers bloom on fruit tree crops and in order for them to grow fruit, you need a bee to pollinate every flower. The bee flies to one flower and picks up pollen, flies to the next flower, then that pollen gets rubbed off inside the second flower. The transfer of pollen from one tree to the next tree is what gives it the genetic material to grow an apple, pear or almond. So if there are not enough bees, there’s not enough fruit, which means a farmer can’t sell enough fruit to meet the market’s needs. So what we’re doing is basically supplementing the amount of lost bees by flying over those same flowers and dropping pollen using a drone.
What problem are you solving?
Currently bees are dying and it’s happening at a really unsustainable rate where we can’t seem to replace the ones that die with enough time to pollinate the yearly crops that need them in the Spring. So what we’re doing is trying to supplement that deficit of bees by having our drones ready to go so that when a farmer calls, we can set up on their property on a moment’s notice, already have their flight plans ready to go and dust their fields with pollen.
In early 2015, we completed our patent pending prototype, and conducted the first ever UAS pollination of orchards crops, boosting crop set by 10%.
Why are you excited for GENIUS NY?
I'm excited for GENIUS NY because it’s the opportunity I’ve been waiting for since we started. There’s something really exciting about drones. I’ve asked myself many, many times, why I got into drones? They’re cool, they’re going to be useful, you're going to make money doing it...but it’s much more than that. It’s deeply meaningful. It’s manifesting your will, sending it out into the world and having it come back to you. That’s what the drone is. It’s my will. It takes off, I decide where it goes, it goes there, and it does what I can’t and returns to me having changed the world for the better. So that’s why I am excited about GENIUS NY. It's given me purpose.
What is your first impression of Syracuse so far?
Coming from San Francisco, it was a bit of a shock at first. Wind-chill was a bit much, you feel like you’re going to lose your ears, but I’ve gotten used to it now. I hope to see more of it soon.
How many drones do you own?
Two operational prototypes that are currently crop dusting. We have a collection of “Frankenstein” drones that we’ve combined, or taken apart and put together, so overall, I think we have gone through 6 or 7 total.
What would you do with the $1 Million?
With the $1 million, we would go operational and seek Series A funding. I am really excited to work with UsPLM (another GENIUS NY team), they have got some ideas about controlling groups of drones. We are going for full automation. We are going to continue to expand and find customers and make agreements with manufactures.