Drone company bets big on ag
AirCover's presence in Carroll sparks farm-country collaboration
February 18, 2014
AirCover Integrated Solutions president and CEO James Hill displays a Hover Hawk drone at a Carroll Area Development Corporation meeting.
AirCover Integrated Solutions, a California-based drone company with a growing presence in Carroll, sees a bright future in production agriculture around the globe.
And it starts right here in western Iowa, says AirCover president and CEO James Hill.
"We're in a serious business collaboration with a Midwest-based leader in farm products," Hill said during a recent interview at The Daily Times Herald offices.
Some farmers are making use of the drones to scout fields, bringing more exact science to their work, Hill said. AirCover is developing software applications to allow producers to better evaluate soil and crop conditions.
"Our strategic partner has many years of experience," Hill said. "Our combined resources create the most effective crop-analysis tools."
The AirCover drones - about 2-1/2 feet by 2-1/2 feet and 3.7 pounds - are slightly larger than a seagull. The drones, managed from the ground by state-of-the-art computer systems, can climb 80 feet per second, or about four stories per second. They travel horizontally at 45 mph. The air ceilings depend on whether the UAVs are used for civilian or military application.
AirCover's drones are not weaponized.
AirCover, a leading international unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer, in 2012 officially opened assembly, sales and marketing operations in Carroll with plans for about a dozen employees by 2015 in the burgeoning high-tech industry. Currently AirCover employs three people in Carroll.
The advanced research-and-development company specializes in surveillance drones and sensors for public safety, search-and-rescue missions and commercial applications. Hill said agriculture could account for as much as 40 percent of AirCover's business.
The company has a strong corporate footprint in the Cedar Rapids area. The highly secure Carroll facility opened Nov. 11, 2012, at the 20th Street location north of U.S. Highway 71.
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