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DJI announces $15,000 agricultural drone designed to spray crops

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DJI is known for its consumer drones; the Phantom 3 series is our recommendation for the best drone you can buy. But the Chinese company's latest model, the eight-rotor Agras MG-1, goes in another direction entirely — it's designed for agricultural use. The primary use of the Agras is spraying crops, with the ability to cover between seven and ten acres an hour and a tank that holds 10 liters (about 2.6 gallons) of liquid.

DJI says the Agras is over 40 times more efficient than manual spraying. Using a microwave radar, the drone can scan the ground below and maintain the right distance from crops to spray the correct amount of liquid. It flies up to eight meters per second, modulating its spraying for even coverage. It can be used in automatic, semi-automatic, or manual operation, and is designed for durability with dustproofing, water resistance, and an anti-corrosive build. The Agras also folds down into a compact package after use.

Agriculture could be a major area of growth for the drone industry

Agriculture is considered a prime area of potential growth in the drone industry because of the technology's ability to help survey crops and gather real-time information on farmland. And companies like DJI will be able to charge far higher prices than the $1,000 or so that their consumer Phantom drones command — the Agras will cost "roughly $15,000," according to The Wall Street Journal. DJI is launching it in China and Korea at first, with availability in other markets to follow.