By Aaron Mesh
WW reported in February that Oregon State University had applied with the Federal Aviation Administration for a license to use unmanned drones.
Today, the university announced it will start using two drones this month—to look at potato fields.
OSU officials said today that two small unmanned aircraft will fly three times a week over potato fields at the 300-acre Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center and a privately-owned research farm west of Boardman. The drones will take infrared photographs of potato plants to see if they’re sick.
Phil Hamm, the director of the Hermiston center, says the OSU drones won’t invade anyone’s privacy.
“These unmanned aircraft are for agricultural research only and will be used to do nothing more than that,” Hamm says. “This is about helping our local growers do a better job of growing crops, something HAREC has been doing for the past 102 years.”
The drone that will fly over the Hermiston fields is a remote-controlled HawkEye unmanned aircraft.
OSU officials says the public is invited to watch the HawkEye fly at its “potato field day” in Hermiston on June 26.