Unmanned System Technology Sdn Bhd (UST) has signed an MoU with ProXcel Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of FELDA to develop and deliver a UAS-based sensory services to enhance Malaysia’s competetiveness in agrocultural sector. UST will be responsible to research, develop, manufacture and market the UAS system.
Using UAV in Malaysian agriculture sector is relatively new as there has been little effort to explore the potential of using UAV in this aspect. In 2006, MARDI has taken the first step by collaborating with Petronas to come up with a helicopter UAV system known as the RMAX UAV that was extensivelytested for crop surveillance system (CSS) and variable input range transmission (VRT) component.
These two main component are important to help farmers to determine rate and location based on the transmitted data as well as a precise determination on crop surveillance whether there has been a disease on the crop or the supplied nutrient and water is at the correct range.
The RMAX UAV is also being used for crop dusting thus reducing the cost for manpower as well as fertiliser, pesticide and fungicide consumption. A total of five to seven aerial monitoring could be conducted over a single planting season which means that the UAV allows precise management of agricultural land without heavily rely on manual labour to do so. Its low operating cost means that the UAV has a great potential to be widely use in fields and farms as well as plantations in this country. The only hindrance of such UAV is its high procurement cost.
Nevertheless, RMAX UAV is able to fly within 10 kilometers radius for 120 minutes at maximum height of 350 meters. With maximum payload of 30kg, RMAX UAV could carry a camera and other sensor suited for agricultural role. The UAV could monitor a 1000 hectares of agricultural area by using only 12 liters of petrol.
On December 2010, USM researchers has also come up with their own UAV for agricultural use dubbed the Greentech 2020 UAV. The hand launched UAV could be used to collect data over paddy fields. With its speed of 55 km/h and a flight radius of 50 kilometers, the UAV is highly useful to be utilised in such wide area as the paddy fields. With its electric motor propulsion, the UAV does not require petrol to fly thus lowering operating cost as well as preserving air quality at the same time.