Yamaha’s RMax unmanned helicopter was on display at the CRT Farmfest in Queensland, Australia, fitted with crop-spraying equipment for precision agriculture (PA).
The debut of the racy-looking Rmax chopper, essentially a flying computer, takes the pilot out of the cockpit to make the technology more cost-effective. It ‘wowed’ visitors to the Yamaha stand at the Queensland-based event where its business development manager (Sky Division), Liam Quigley, had little trouble convincing visitors of its agricultural potential in Australia.
“We are here to show people what it is, to introduce them to the product. It’s a remote-controlled UAV that can be used for spraying crops, also seeding, plus a range of other uses,” Mr Quigley said.
Top of mind questions included its payload (28kg), and the prospect of it being increased, plus the ability to handle liquids or granules. Alternatively, this equipment can be replaced by cameras and sensors weighing a similar amount.
Mr Quigley believes there is “a strong role” for the Rmax to be used anywhere for work that is “dull, dirty or dangerous” using a small spray boom to treat 7.7m wide swaths on each pass across a paddock.
Interested grower groups, and there have been quite a few, can’t actually buy an Rmax, only lease one, for about $120,000 over three years with training and maintenance included.
“We can recoup those costs because most operators I’ve spoken to would be looking to charge between $200 to $300/hour which is only a fraction of the cost of running a (full-sized) helicopter,” Mr Quigley said. “We are one quarter of the capacity of a helicopter but 1/25th of the running cost,” he explained.
Powered by a 250cc water-cooled two stroke engine Yamaha, which operates a fleet of machines to treat rice crops in Japan, says its Rmax machines can spray just over three quarters of a hectare (two acres) every six minutes.
“The biggest attraction is the fact it can operate when the ground is too wet for a tractor to get over,” Mr Quigley said, adding it took two weeks to learn to fly the helicopter with courses being organised for contractors.
Source: Farm Online