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The "Drosophila-nator" Autonomous Insect Hunter

clolsonus

Active member
#1
One of the rock star students working in the U of MN UAV lab made a really nice video about one of our projects. He agreed to let me share it, so here it is!


The "spotted wing drosophila" is an invasive fruit fly, not native to north america. It has spread through the USA rapidly and is currently devastating berry crops such as blue berries and raspberries among other things. It has the ability to chew into unripe, healthy berries and thus causes much more damage than ordinary fruit flies that typically go after rotten fallen fruit. We put together a customized aircraft and flight controller purpose built for hunting these pests. The aircraft is based on the X-UAV Talon and the flight controller and flight control software is something we developed in-house to support our various research projects. The name of the aircraft is "Ullr" loosely based on Norse mythology.
 

clolsonus

Active member
#3
Interesting sampling method., I’m sure you catch more insects than the ones you are looks for.
It's a lot like fishing ... some days we catch quite a few little bugs, and some days we get nothing. Seems like weather/winds/temp/humidity all affect if bugs are in the mood to fly.
 

clolsonus

Active member
#5
Have you thought about using a pheromone trap.
I haven't, but I'm just the pilot/engineer. The original concept was to use a ginormous helium balloon, but that ended up being a ton of cost, lots of infrastructure, someone just about took there hand off in the winch. The airplane seems to be working out much better for them.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#6
As an RC enthusiast, it a brilliant idea, fly the plane and see what sticks.

As an agronomist a stationary bait trap may be more effective.

I live in corn country. We do use the windshield method to scout for corn bore and japanese beatles. This method will not tell you if you have a problem in your field. But when the bugs start splatting off the windshield as you drive down the highway, you know they are in the area and you need to step up the crop scouting.
 

clolsonus

Active member
#7
As an RC enthusiast, it a brilliant idea, fly the plane and see what sticks.

As an agronomist a stationary bait trap may be more effective.

I live in corn country. We do use the windshield method to scout for corn bore and japanese beatles. This method will not tell you if you have a problem in your field. But when the bugs start splatting off the windshield as you drive down the highway, you know they are in the area and you need to step up the crop scouting.
The student doing this project for their phd work also sets up a number of stationary traps at various heights (up to about 50' on telescoping poles). We are waiting to start our flights until those stationary traps start turning up hits.

I like the windshield method! Most of the time simpler is better, but I will also take any excuse to fly. :)

Curt.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#8
sets up a number of stationary traps at various heights (up to about 50' on telescoping poles). We are waiting to start our flights until those stationary traps start turning up hits.
Yes, I like the idea of a pole, I was just think about that my self. How high you fly could make a significant difference. Have you considered flying loops or up & down spirals? You could also try deploying some of the sticky traps at one altitude and some at another.

but I will also take any excuse to fly.
Amen to that brother
 

clolsonus

Active member
#9
Yes, I like the idea of a pole, I was just think about that my self. How high you fly could make a significant difference. Have you considered flying loops or up & down spirals? You could also try deploying some of the sticky traps at one altitude and some at another.
So far we have tried to stick to a single altitude per flight, that way if (when?) we do catch something we know at what altitude they were flying. We have tried doing a circle holds over the berry field and also something that resembles an aerial survey route that covers a larger area. We usually try for 3 flight per evening with the last one touching down at sunset + 30 minutes.