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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Taking care of the crop

Marga Hoek shines a spotlight on the AV and drone technology that is taking us a major step closer to achieving UN 2023 Sustainable Development Goals

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) and drones used for the benefit of sustainable business will be at the forefront of addressing many of the UN’s Global Goals, or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 Goals, agreed upon by 193 countries in 2015, consist of interlinked sustainability objectives designed as a blueprint for achieving a sustainable world by 2030.

The beneficial way in which AVs and drones will accelerate the realization of the SDGs is not comparable to other technological advancement. This particularly relates to agricultural monitoring using drones and delivery bots aiding in underserved or disaster-affected areas.

As business models are enhanced and global goals are promised to be met owing to contributions of AVs and drones, societal structures head towards an optimized sustainable future.

AVs and drones for Good

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are everywhere – the sky above, below ground, under water, on top of the water, in the future, and might even soon flow through our veins! The tech ranges from autonomous road vehicles including driverless cars, busses and trucks, to ships, to drones which refer to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) or unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). This tech will revolutionize transportation, disaster relief, broadscale mapping functions, public safety monitoring, environmental conservation, and much more. AVs and drones offer huge advantages, from eliminating vehicle collisions and predicting deadly forest fires to optimizing vehicle movement and helping with transport during humanitarian initiatives.

AV and drone technology is now widely used for commercial, professional, and industrial goods, as well as for private purposes. Prominent companies are actively investing in these innovations, including traditional car manufacturers and tech giants like Google. Different sectors of the economy, including agriculture, transport, infrastructure, entertainment, and telecommunications make use of UAVs, USVs, and AUVs applications.

Drones of all types can prove to be a major force for good as they hold massive potential to meet the needs of the SDGs. Developing countries are facing famine, epidemic diseases, poverty, and other challenges. AV and drone technology can help address each of these problems.

Optimising food and agriculture with data and analytics

It is crucial to develop credible alternatives to the status quo of intensive agriculture as the world faces food shortages. By helping analyze crop yields and providing key data on soil quality and other crucial factors, the drone industry brings hope to the food and agricultural sectors.

Drone startups present the possibility of helping farmers become more sustainable and increase their yield. The benefits to using drones in the agricultural sector are countless; farmers can not only optimize spraying of pesticides in areas that need treatment which significantly reduces the amount used, but they can also reduce water use, control crop quality, and access difficult-to-reach areas.

Agricultural drones are often programmed to take pictures of the crops and fields. These devices communicate with software to create high-resolution maps, ultimately informing farmers about irrigation, soil, and infestation problems. European startups such as Switzerland-based Gamava and France-based Delair provide visual intelligence solutions that allow farmers to capture, manage, and analyze their crops, thereby turning data into valuable insights.

There is a large business opportunity for drones in several areas, which include helping protect food crops and making them more sustainable by reducing spraying. Further, UAVs could assist farmers in switching to organically certified products to spray over their plots of land.

Achieving a more sustainable future with AVs and drones

Recent developments in AV and drone technologies promise an exciting future with a market growth potential of spread and breadth that has not yet been realized. With colossal funding allocated for these techs, the world will witness major business development and significant market opportunities.

As we take a comprehensive look at the options available to make the right choices regarding this tech, there remains a long way to go and much is still required for achieving a sound regulatory framework. Considering current conditions, international and public/private collaborations, as well as hardware and software tech developments, will all be necessary to truly unlock the potential for good of these autonomous vehicles and drones.

Marga Hoek is a global thought leader on sustainable business and capital. She is the author of the new book Tech for Good: Solving the World’s Greatest Challenges (Routledge, 29 November, £34.99).


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