How Aerobotics uses drones for agricultural activities in Africa

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Aerobotics builds solutions, using imagery from drones and satellites, to provide farmers with insights on crops and trees, including information on pests and disease to improve harvests and reduce risk. Using compute, data analytics, and other advanced technologies, the company helps farmers grow healthier crops, despite harsh conditions.

BizNis Africa interviewed Benji Meltzer, Aerobotics co-founder on the impact drones have for farming communities.

1. Who are aerobotics and why are they vital to the economy?

We are a data analytics company that uses aerial imagery (from drones and satellites) and machine learning algorithms to optimise crop performance for farmers around the world.

Farmers don’t have tools to effectively manage their resources and farms are wasting both time and money through inefficiencies. The lack of information, insights and data-driven decisions on the ground lead to losses and reduced yields.

Today, we use the scale of AWS to bring together vast data sources such as satellite and drone imagery as well as in-field data, to analyze them in the cloud, helping farmers monitor crops near real-time and warn them about potential risks. The vast compute power available in the cloud allows us to convert the imagery into actionable insights and decisions and passed into the hands of farmers, in the fields, faster.

2. Is your company focused mainly on drones and machine learning techniques?

Rather than being focused on individual technologies, we are focused on bringing these tools together to offer a high value solution that can significantly impact farmers’ day-to-day operations. While we use cutting edge technology, our focus is on building products that are as simple and easy to use as possible.

Having said this, we do use drone imagery to map out farms, allowing for high resolution pest and disease monitoring.

Machine learning is also a core part of our solution, where it is used to convert the drone-captured imagery into insights for example identifying problematic plants early, on a plant-by-plant basis.

We have a brilliant team of developers and data scientists who are leveraging these. Additionally, our edge has also been the ability to provide farmers with the necessary data to take their operations to a new level.

3. What do you use the technology device for and who is your target market?

Our web application, Aeroview, provides meaningful plant level data to farmers to analyse their crops, on a plant by plant basis, by suggesting relevant corrective actions all while reducing costs and precious resources.

Aerobotics is for the modern day, forward-thinking farmer that is committed to improving his farm efficiency using 21st century technology.

4. Why is your business ideal in Africa?

Africa has both the land and resources available to support global food needs.

Along with the growing population on the continent, it is becoming crucial to develop scalable agricultural processes and systems, using technology such as our own.

We also see Africa as the perfect location to develop our products, given both the local technical talent base and the world-class agricultural capability, in building a global product and client base.

5. What impact do you think AI and IoT will have on businesses operating in Africa?

Early adoption of technology such as AI or IoT has the ability to empower businesses across various industries, bridging the gap between cutting edge technology and communities who need help the most.

AI could enable businesses to scale across the continent, without necessarily being held back by traditional constraints like geography, finance or a lack of access to customers. Further, businesses would be able to leverage knowledge and skills built up on a global basis, even while offering bespoke, local solutions.

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About Author

Bontle Moeng is the Founder and Managing Director of BizNis Africa. Moeng has spent 15 years working in the digital and online media industry across Africa. She applied her trade at True Love magazine prior to discovering her passion for Investment news in key sectors across Africa. Moeng previously worked for ITWeb, Starfish Mobile Technologies, ITNewsAfrica, AVATAR Agency, eNitiate, Global Interface Consulting and Havas Johannesburg. Her primary focus is to provide solid and valuable content on investment opportunities for the ICT, Energy and Mining sectors across Africa. In addition, the online news publication assists global companies to expand their presence in Africa. Email: news@biznisafrica.co.za

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