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John Wang
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Finance
December 26 11:36

Automated crop duster gets US$11 million

Drones come out over the fields American startup Pyka has successfully closed its seed round, led by Prime Movers Lab with participation of Data Collector, Y Combinator and other investors. The company has managed to secure US$11 million in funding 
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Pyka is taking on the ambitious undertaking of automating the crop-spraying. This work is hard and dangerous, since the pilots of spraying planes have to fly low over large stretches of field and distribute the sprays - which are often poisonous - proportionally and multiple times. The startup has a different solutions: drones.

Pyka’s machine, called Egret, resembles the “traditional” crop dusters, rather than modern quadcopters. This way it can carry sufficient load, up to 204 pounds. The machine has three propellers and onboard computer, that will handle fast flight orders. It can take off and land on a relatively small patches of surface. That saves the maintenance crew a lot of trouble and they can focus only on batteries, that power the plane, and laying the course.

Egret can spray around a hundred acres per one launch. These are satisfying, but not fantastic numbers. Yet the machine allows for better precision and safety. It also secured the federal approvement - the company has official license for autonomous electric aircraft production.