EE students William Cowles and Alex Kudlin (both graduated in May 2021) gave a presentation on their senior design project at the 3rd International Workshop on Wireless Sensors and Drones in Internet of Things (Wi-DroIT). Their paper titled "Addressing Greenhouse’s Lack of Natural Pollinators - A UAV-Based Artificial Pollination System" has been published with IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing in Sensor Systems (DCOSS).
William and Alex presented a solution to help reduce the cost for the greenhouse farmers by designing a UAV-based artificial pollination system that is smaller and more affordable than what is currently available. This compact UAV can fly a pre-planned coverage route in enclosed greenhouses, where it will deploy its pollen payload over the plants.
Greenhouses are designed to regulate internal climate conditions and protect plants from pests and from outside contamination. These enclosed structures extend the growing season and maximize crop health. The tradeoff for these benefits is the exclusion of natural pollinators. Artificial pollination products have been implemented to compensate for this problem, but common drawbacks include both high costs and a laborious application of the product.
Alternatively, the team designed a UAV pollinator for semi-automatic operation for artificial pollination in greenhouses, which overcomes the above drawbacks. The UAV has been implemented and tested to validate its efficacy, which proved that the design is both cost-effective and adaptable for different greenhouse structures. Their project can be accessed by visiting UAV Pollination.
Dr. Nansong Wu is the advisor of the project, further research and the presentation.