As drones have been increasingly readily accessible to the public, their uses are expanding rapidly as well. From tracking shots, racing, and even bombing civilians, drones have proven itself useful to humanity. And to add up to that, drones can now also plant trees!
According to the United Nations, around 17 percent of the world's carbon emission comes from deforestation and forest degradation. And so, a drone system built by Dr Susan Graham and her colleagues at BioCarbon Engineering is expected to aid on this problem.
They've created a drone that can scan the land, look for places to grow trees and shoot seeds into the soil. This technology can help plant trees in areas that are hard to reach, like steep hills and mountains.
Worldwide, an average of 15 billion trees are lost each year, most are due to the farmlands that feed the 7 billion people living on Earth. However, replanting efforts are not catching up. "Although we plant about 9 billion trees every year, that leaves a net loss of 6 billion trees. The rate of replanting is just too slow," Dr Graham said.
Lauren Fletcher, the CEO of BioCarbon Engineering, said that the firing drone could carry 150 seed pods at a time. "We're firing at one a second, which means a pair of operators will be able to plant nearly 100,000 trees per day — 60 teams like this will get us to a billion trees a year," he said.
Researchers first used a separate scanning drone to map the area and make a 3D model of the land. The team then developed an algorithm on exactly where to plant and how to manage the ecosystem for the seed-spreading drone to follow.
The team tested the drone on a steep hillside in Dungog, New South Wales, Australia. They chose the area to rehabilitate the land that was once used by coal mines. "Tractors find it very difficult over steep and undulating land. It becomes very dangerous to get a tractor onto a steep hillside," Dr Graham said.
Well, it's nice to see how technologies are being incorporated to our efforts on saving Mother Earth. Perhaps if we focus more on to these than just mindlessly tapping our screens, a better world with more advanced technology is possible instead of the gloomy-Dr.-Seuss'-The-Lorax kind of world.