Drone-copter-250

When farmers approach University of California, Davis, agricultural engineering professor Ken Giles to inquire about an experimental, remote-controlled helicopter being studied as a potential applicator for agricultural chemicals, they only ask two things: How well does it work and how much does it cost?

The short answer is that the results look promising so far.

Giles is the lead university researcher who is partnering with Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, to see how well Yamaha’s motorcycle-sized RMAX unmanned helicopter can been used for agricultural purposes in the United States, including aerial applications of agricultural chemicals.

UC Davis has a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration to apply treatments with remote-controlled aircraft at the UC Oakville Experimental Vineyard. Field tests using only water applications began last November, and Giles and his team demonstrated the helicopter for reporters last week.

Their tests are among several involving use of unmanned aircraft for agricultural purposes, in California and elsewhere.