Project Code: 16062
Project Title: Autonomous Aerial Pollination of Medjool Date Trees
Project Type: Faculty
Project Intellectual Property: University Controlled
Project Citizenship Restriction: No
Sponsor Company: UA Department of Biosystems Engineering
Description: The project’s goal is to improve the pollination rates of medjool date palms at a date farm in Yuma, Arizona, by designing and creating a semiautonomous unmanned pollination aircraft. The current pollination method involves tying a nylon stocking filled with pollen to an unmanned aircraft that is flown over the palm, and letting the wind deliver the pollen to the trees. Farmers determine wind direction by kicking dirt into the air, and coordinate their approximations with the unmanned aircraft pilot to estimate the fall pattern of pollen. The team’s improved pollen-delivery system includes an automated pollinator that protects pollen spores from inclement weather and reduces pollen waste by dropping a precise payload. Unmanned aircraft flight is semiautonomous, with a user interface that integrates camera input with weather station and ground-control data input to avoid collisions, determine flower maturity, and determine ideal aircraft location relative to the palm tree.