Commercial Drone Fund Invests in Raptor Maps, Drone-Enabled Platform for Agriculture Yield Management
BY Alan Perlman28 December 2016
Raptor Maps gets more funding from Airware’s Commercial Drone Fund to grow its work in supporting drone use for agriculture.
CAMBRIDGE, MA. – December 26, 2016—Recently the Commercial Drone Fund, a venture capital fund launched by Airware focused on investing in promising commercial drone businesses around the world, announced an investment in Raptor Maps, a Cambridge-based company developing a drone-enabled technology platform for the agriculture sector.
With the use of drones, tractor-mounted sensors and software, Raptor Maps has created an affordable system for farmers to allow them to precisely map, analyze, and measure the quality of crops at critical times during the growing season.
The system helps farmers to know the conditions that will maximize crop yield, allowing them to make more informed decisions and reduce unnecessary cost and labor.
A number of specialty crop growers across the United States and Canada have successfully implemented Raptor Maps technology this growing season.
“The agriculture sector has been an early adopter of commercial drone technology, with several companies now offering products for monitoring crops. What impressed us with Raptor Maps’ product is that it collects a vast amount of data, distills it down, and correlates actions that a grower can take on a season-to-season basis—something we haven’t seen in other drone products.”
—John Kolaczynski, Head of Corporate Development, the Commercial Drone Fund
Raptor Maps goes beyond just drone mapping and yield data overlays. Since farmers are constantly experimenting with new chemicals, fertilizer regimens, seed types, and techniques, Raptor Maps allows them to perform statistical analyses for A/B testing to compare and optimize these various inputs for fruits and vegetables. (They’re also currently developing a software tool that works for all crops.)
“Until now, drone technology has been more of a curiosity in agriculture,” said Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO of Raptor Maps. “Farmers would receive maps with generic metrics like ‘crop stress’, but the actionability and ability to calculate a return-on-investment was limited.”
Raptor Maps’ effort this growing season has already created a lasting impression on their early customers. Washington state-based grower Steve Phipps of Piper Ranch will utilize data from this year’s yield to influence his practices for next season.
“Raptor Maps gave me a breakdown of potato sizes on my 130-acre field. The size analysis showed I could reduce an input and save money while maintaining yield,” said Steve Phipps of Piper Ranch in Moses Lake, Washington.
Want to learn more about drones in agriculture, or other ways you can make money flying drones commercially? Check out this profile we did a little while back of Idaho-based Empire Unmanned, and make sure to read up on the FAA’s Part 107 requirements for flying drones commercially in the United States.