The Van Trump Report

Guardian Agriculture’s Autonomous eVTOL Wins FAA Approval

Guardian Agriculture has been working on an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft specifically geared toward large-scale agriculture since 2017. Sometimes referred to as “air taxis,” Guardian’s eVTOL doesn’t carry people but rather crop inputs, and it’s the first of its kind to gain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for commercial use.

Drone use on the farm has been gaining in popularity for many years now as farmers embrace precision agriculture technology and pursue different strategies that allow them to do more with less. But Guardian’s aircraft is not a typical drone. Powered by batteries, eVTOLs take off and land going straight up and down, similar to a helicopter.

Guardian’s eVTOL is smaller than a helicopter, though, and easier and cheaper to deploy than an airplane to perform aerial crop spraying, aka “crop dusting.” The Guardian SC1 eVTOL also has a 20-gallon tank designed to cover 40 acres per hour of crop protection, which includes charging and tank filling time. According to Guardian, its platform offers the same comprehensive coverage as traditional aerial crop dusting and ground spraying equipment, at the same or lower costs.  

The Guardian SC1 eVTOL delivers its payload via four six-foot propellers powered by a 40hp drivetrain, fully autonomous capabilities, a supercharger ground station, and software to store data. The 15-foot wide aircraft uses industry-standard nozzles, pressures, droplet sizes, and application volumes and can carry 200-pound payloads.

The SC1 can be programmed to spray specific areas while also collecting data that can help farmers refine chemical use. Additionally, eVTOL vehicles do not compact soil, damage crops, or spread disease. They’re also unaffected by poor ground conditions. Guardian Agriculture founder and CEO Adam Bercu shares more details about the SC1’s capabilities HERE.  

The “SC” stands for “specialty crops” as this is where Guardian expects the SC1 will be best utilized. With a starting price of $119,000, the company is already booking orders for late-2025. An eVTOL for broad acre spraying is in development, with Guardian aiming to double the payload capacity and thus acreage coverage per tank. Details and preorders could be available as soon as late-2023. Learn more at Guardian Agriculture.

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