The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed drones to fly overnight for the first time to date to help combat locusts swarming large trees across northwestern and central India.
The drones were intentionally built by Anna University in Chennai, India, with a pesticide tank that is 60% larger and a total weight of 50 kg (~ 110 pounds).
The drones are powered using a dual system – battery and petrol – with a maximum flight time three times longer than previously used drones.
The new drones are equipped with thermal imaging cameras to better identify the locusts in the dark by detecting the heat waves created by the small insect.
To date, three drones have been deployed to destroy and detect swarms of locusts, with another 15 scheduled to be built very soon.
Drones have also proven to be a useful tool in the fight against COVID-19, thanks to the long life and large size of the tank.
Amber Dubey, joint secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India, congratulated the specialized drone team for obtaining the first ever approval for night flights to India.
“Night operations are more effective since locusts are literally caught taking a nap then. It’s nice to see the growing use of drones in the agricultural sector.”
Drones and locusts
Drones have defeated swarms of locusts in various African countries in the past two years, with India now joining the African continent. Mauritania and Kenya monitored crop damage and locust swarms in detail to guide preparations before the swarms arrive.
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