Michael Hirtzer Bloomberg
Electric Autonomous Drones Get Approval to Spray California Crops
April 24, 2023
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  • Farm fields in California’s Central Valley soon will be managed by crop-spraying autonomous drones after Guardian Agriculture received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to deploy its machines.

    Use of drones on farms has been surging but Guardian is the first to get authorization in the US to commercially operate so-called eVTOL aircraft, which are electric and take off and land vertically. Demand for the drones is so strong that Guardian is booking orders for late-2025, said Adam Bercu, cofounder and chief executive officer and a one-time Battlebots competitor.

    “We’ll be bottlenecked by manufacturing capacity for years,” Bercu said of his drone factory outside of Boston. “We’re turning folks down.”

    Drones can more easily be deployed than helicopters and planes on some farm fields and, unlike traditional ground-based crop sprayers, they don’t compact soil or run over plants. A lack of pilots in the industry also is prompting operators to turn to drones, according to Willie Negroni, vice president of supplier relations at Wilbur-Ellis, which will be among the first to deploy Guardian’s drones in California.