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With a recent investment in a new technology, Oregon companies continue to carve out a corner of the booming unmanned aerial systems — more commonly known as drones — market.
Wilsonville-based HoneyComb Corp. has landed $150,000 from Oregon BEST and the Portland Development Commission to test its agricultural drone applications.
HoneyComb's drone systems combine mounted cameras and imaging technology with a tablet-based dashboard reporting system. Automated drones fly over acres of farmland, recording infrared and visual data to identify water levels, crop health and other data points to help farmers save time, money, fertilizer and water.
"Rather than someone walking a 1,000-acre field looking for areas of crop stress, our system can survey that acreage in an hour and analyze the data so a farmer can see where the issues are and hone in on those areas," said HoneyComb CEO Ryan Jenson in a statement.
Working in partnership with Oregon State University, HoneyComb will use the new money to test and verify the accuracy of its agricultural platform.
"We're pleased to be partnering with the PDC to help this Oregon startup compete in an arena where Oregon's rich history of agricultural and forestry research intersect with our strengths in high technology innovation," said David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST.
The system can also be used to assess forestland health, including density of trees and presence of invasive species that may harm stands of forest.
In January, Bend-based nonprofit Oregon Unmanned Aerial Systems Business Enterprise was created to attract and grow the drone industry in Oregon.
Oregon BEST is one of three "signature research centers" in the state, working to accelerate the commercialization of green building and cleantech products in Oregon. The Portland Development Commission is the urban renewal and economic development agency created by the city of Portland.