UGM developes an autonomous drone to eradicate plant pests

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Andi Dharmawan is with his drone. (Photo: UGM Doc)

IO, Yogyakarta – Researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MIPA) of the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta have developed an innovative system to eradicate pests and plant diseases by using autonomous unmanned aircraft. 

“The pest and plant disease eradication system uses an edrone which is a flight controller module for drones made independently, with the ability to fly autonomously,” said the developer of this innovation, Dr. Andi Dharmawan, S.Sc., M.Cs., Thursday (9/1/2020), as quoted by UGM Public Relations. 

Andi said pest and plant disease attacks are a problem often faced by farmers in the country. This results in decreased agricultural and plantation harvests which could threaten food production in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the handling of pests and plant diseases cannot be carried out quickly because the land is quite extensive and spread out. 

Therefore, he and other research teams from the Electronics and Instrumentation Study Program, Department of Computer Science and Electronics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in the university developed innovations to overcome these problems. 

Andi said the system was developed by using a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft (UAV). UAVs are equipped with electronic components such as brushless motors, servo motors, GPS, telemetry, batteries, and IMU6 DOF, while mechanically using a 13 “propeller, a maximum take-off weight of 4 kg, and a body and wings are made of hard foam. 

Also equipped with a flight controller which is a Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) control method. “The use of the flight controller is needed so that the UAV can fly stably and carry out the mission autonomously,” said the lecturer in Electronics and Instrumentation. 

The UAV can carry pesticides that will be sprayed to eradicate pests and plant diseases. In addition to developing a pest eradication system, Andi also utilizes a UAV for another function, namely, mapping plant diseases. Together with Agus Harjoko, Ph.D., Andi created a technology system for pest and disease recognition to identify various types of plant diseases. 

This time the fixed-wing type UAV is equipped with a flight controller that can be connected to a ground segment supported by a BTS Balloon. Later, the UAV will carry out monitoring and mapping in a specified area. Following this, results are processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify areas affected by pests and plant diseases. 

“Mapping is done using 3 fixed-wing vehicles and can map up to 200 hectares,” he said. (*/est)