Entering agri-tech, defense firm IAI to sell crop-monitoring drones to Brazil
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Entering agri-tech, defense firm IAI to sell crop-monitoring drones to Brazil

Deal is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the next decade and will expand IAI’s reach into civilian markets

Illustrative image of a sugarcane field (vichitlamool; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a sugarcane field (vichitlamool; iStock by Getty Images)

Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. said Wednesday it had signed an agreement with Brazil’s Santos Lab Comercio E Industria Aerospacial LTDA (Santos Lab) to supply the Brazilian defense firm with drones equipped with advanced analytics tools for large-scale precision agricultural purposes.

The deal, which is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming decade, will expand IAI’s reach from purely military applications to civilian ones, in this case for agricultural applications, IAI said in a statement.

Under the agreement, IAI will provide Santos with its BirdEye 650D UAV systems and analyze the collected data.

Santos Lab, a maker of drones for the agricultural and defense market, will operate the BirdEye UAV, which was developed by IAI for the precision agriculture market, when technology and software are used to target the specific needs of crops for optimum productivity.

The IAI and Santos Lab teams (IAI)

The BirdEye, equipped with a hyper-spectral wide coverage imager, which collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum, will be used to generate reports on large-scale farming areas according to a broad range of parameters.

Typical tasks include monitoring various crops such as soy and sugarcane as well as commercial forestry, and providing accurate analysis reports about the condition of the crops and soil. The high precision analytics would not have been possible without the hyper-spectral technology, which allows identifying crops’ condition from high altitude at high resolution and accuracy, IAI said.

The data will be uploaded for customers via a specially developed cloud solution, IAI said. The service is expected to become operational at the end of 2019.

“IAI has over 40 years’ experience with UAV’s, mainly for military applications. Utilizing our systems for agricultural applications is a good example of how we look to commercialize our knowhow to broaden our offering,” Moshe Levy, IAI EVP and general manager of its Military Aircraft Group, said in the statement.

“The cooperation between a technological company such as IAI and Santos Lab is bringing to Brazil’s agro market a tool capable of changing the essential ways of monitoring the agricultural development,” said Gabriel Klabin, CEO at Santos Lab. “This system will allow farmers to take conscious decisions on how to better manage their crops in the most efficient manner, introducing precision agriculture in a large industrial scale throughout Brazilian fields. The use of this technology can positively impact the whole cycle of food production and consumption, even enabling people to eat at better costs, and this is just the beginning.”

IAI develops and manufactures advanced systems for air, space, sea, land, cybersecurity and homeland security. Since 1953, the company has provided advanced technology solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide, including satellites, missiles, weapon systems, munitions, unmanned and robotic systems and radars.

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