In 2007, with the support of several colleagues, Peng Bin formed XAIRCRAFT exploring how drone applications could be used commercially for inspections, scientific research, and search and rescue operations. By 2014, the company was renamed XAG after finding its niche market, agriculture. Today, as proudly stated on the company website, “XAG is dedicated to bringing drones, robots, autopilot, artificial intelligence, and Internet-of-things into the world of agricultural production. It creates a smart agriculture ecosystem that leads us into the era of Agriculture 4.0 characterized as automation, precision, and efficiency.” The agricultural industry has become one of the biggest users and supporters of drone technology, with XAG as the largest agricultural drone company in the market.
XAG is helping farmers throughout 42 countries and regions in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Their autonomous aerial and ground drones have allowed farmers to manage multiple aspects of day to day operations while keeping costs low and yields high. Over the course of the global coronavirus pandemic, Qian Liangxu from Chongming Island, Shanghai, China, said that drones proved to be the missing link in keeping farms sustainable. With more than 30 years of experience farming, 58 year old Qian first began using drones in 2017. But the demand for increased agricultural products due to the pandemic saw Qian needing to increase drone operations.
For the last few months, Qian has been managing a group of more than 50 young adults from neighboring provinces to keep 60 drones in the air on a regular basis. The team resides in dorms in Chongming Island provided by the agricultural commission, Bright Food Group. Qian’s team uses XAG drones to cover 8,000 hectares of crops. The drones are used to inspect overall health, collect crop data, and apply chemicals that prevent fungal diseases. The drone efforts have clearly paid off as Ye Junping, Vice Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Agriculture Commission, revealed that the region’s agricultural output was functioning at 93% of its normal capacity.
What has led to Qian’s team being so successful is XAG’s updated drone technology. With a fleet of XAG P100 drones, the farmers have all the equipment needed to tend to crops, especially preventing the spread of disease. “It’s a task that has to be completed on time. Otherwise, the harvest volume will be significantly lower,” Qian said. In the past, while drones have been very useful, one of their main faults was their reliance on internet connectivity, something that is often lacking in farming regions. The P100, combined with XAG’s SuperX 4 Pro flight control system, is able to maintain autonomous operations even in internet denied regions.
The drone supports a 40kg payload for more efficient chemical applications. All XAG drones also utilize iRASS nozzle technology. This allows the drone to precisely apply chemicals to crops without waste. The system can seamlessly transition between applying liquid to granule chemicals as well. “We aim to build the infrastructure of agriculture for the next 100 years, that will provide the world with sufficient, diversified, and safe food,” states XAG’s website. The P100 is joined by 3 other drones, an unmanned ground robot, and an array of agriculture support IoT tools (like cameras, weather stations, and soil monitors) to ensure farmers have the technology to meet the demands of a modern agricultural industry