Drone Startup aims to plant One Billion Trees a Year

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Global forests and jungles are under increasing pressure from over production of lumber, strip surface mining, and increased land usage for traditional agriculture and urban expansion. In most countries of the world, the deforestation proceeds at a much faster rate than the process of planting new trees. Now, one very interesting startup has set out to change this devastating trajectory.

The United Arab Emirates government is often accused of quite bad things, and maybe rightfully so. However, even though the government oftentimes seems to lack respect for human equality (which we of course strongly oppose), there are other important areas where they perform better from an international perspective. Some of these areas are for example sustainability and green technology and there is a variety of appealing projects launched frequently. Thus, technological progress seems to be one of the great priorities for the country.

With this in consideration, it might not be sensational that UAE is good at creating some interesting competitions. For instance, they recently hosted the world cup of drones which also goes under the name “Drones for Good” with the intrinsic aim of “finding solutions that will improve people’s lives and provide positive technological solutions to modern day issues”. Naturally, such major events attract some companies with extraordinary clever ideas of how drones can benefit the world and its communities. According to CNET, this year’s competition attracted more than 800 entries from 57 countries. We will now take a look at a company with one of the most interesting of the submitted ideas, a company that is among the top contenders to win the whole thing.

The firm in question is a startup named BioCarbon Engineering and aims to automate industrial scale reforestation through the use of unmanned quad-copters. Actually, their impressive goal is to plant one billion trees each year through the use of remote sensing technology and automated mapping accompanied by high-velocity planting systems firing from the air. As Gizmag reports, the company’s drones will fly over reforestation zones and shoot biodegradable seedpods into the ground at strategic locations. Please take a look at the video below to get acquainted with the founders and their project:

As explained in the video, the system works through two phases. Phase one involves gathering detailed terrain data, which is then used to create high quality 3D-maps of the area to be reforestated. Moreover, data sets will be analyzed along with environmental and weather data to identify and plant the appropriate species of trees for high yield. The second phase involves the use of automated plating drones that will fire nutrient-rich seed pods into the soil from a height of 1-2 meters. The drones follow a predetermined planting pattern and when they have reached the designated planting position, a signal from the drone is sent to the built-in planting system which deploys a seedpod at the spot. The seedpods break open upon impact, allowing the seed within (which is packed in a nutrient rich gel) to grow unhindered an eventually become a new tree.

Additionally, in the company’s benchmark comparison in their submission, they claim that a Kenya NGO plants 200 trees per day (15 people/5 hours), while highly trained personnel in Canada can plant about 1600 trees per day. As for BioCarbon Engineering, the company says that their solution would allow two operators to remotely plant an estimated 36,000 trees per day at less than 10% of the current cost.

Finally it might be worth mentioning that success is already partly on the way for the company, since they recently won The Skoll Centre Venture Award with their solution. Where it comes to the Drones for Good competition, Arabian Business writes that the winners of the award will be announced in February based on the results of live demonstrations by 16 semi-finalists in front of the panel of judges.

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