Seed Pod Delivery System Developed for Tree-Planting Aerial Drone

CAL International and AirSeed Technologies partnership will advance climate change initiative that aims to plant 100 million trees by 2024 By Phoebe Grinter / 23 Aug 2022
AirSeed to Plant 100 Million Trees By 2024 Using Drone Technology

CAL International has teamed up with AirSeed Technologies in order to use reforestation drone technology to combat climate change, with the aim of the collaboration being to plant 100 million trees by 2024. 

British engineering and smart tech firm CAL International working in partnership with Australian green tech start-up AirSeed Technologies has designed and engineered a seed pod delivery system that sits as ‘the engine’ of AirSeed’s tree-planting aerial drone technology. 

The mission brief was to take AirSeed’s existing delivery system and refine the design of the user interface and manufacturability of the seed pod delivery system. The AirSeed drone, which uses artificial and data intelligence, is a payload and delivery system that identifies and locates designated target areas with GPS coordinates and then fires carbon pods onto the ground at a rate of two-per-second. 

The carbon pods are then pinpointed on the mapping system in line with the flight trajectory, which also considers wind variables and conditions on the day of planting. This allows the drone to return on a reconnaissance flight via the same route to then identify and map tree growth.

Using a two-person team, an AirSeed drone aims to plant 40,000 pods per day. The pods each carry a gram of carbon, which is collected from rotting and dying vegetation. The pod protects the seed whilst in the germination cycle from combative elements such as insects, rodents and birds. The seed pod is activated when it rains, with the carbon absorbing the water and allowing the seed to germinate. 

“As soon as [AirSeed Co-Founder Andrew Walker] mentioned AirSeed to me I knew we were talking about a product and project that was ground-breaking in every sense of the word,” said CAL International founder and engineer, Cliff Kirby. “CAL International is a unique business that not only has dedicated teams working in partnership with Blue Chip manufacturers but also incredible start-up technologies and disruptors such as NeedleSmart and AirSeed.          

“As a company we blend a traditional engineering background with a company ethos built on innovation, as such we are often brought in to solve complex problems and issues in the automotive, defense, and nuclear industries. Often those complexities will span both engineering and tech fields, which allows us to create solutions that can then be scaled to volume.”

According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was released in Oct 2018, “The world has 8 years remaining to prevent a massive destabilizing climate change through combined rapid phase out of fossil fuels, reforestation and other natural climate solutions.”

“When AirSeed explained what they hoped to achieve, it was a challenge that we were delighted to take on. The huge significance and impact that this innovation can bring in the fight against climate change is truly global. Together with AirSeed based in Australia and South Africa and CAL based in the UK, this is a global collaboration and the very definition of the art of the possible,” Kirby added. “The collaboration between CAL and AirSeed will ultimately mean that each drone can deliver two pods per second over a designated area, planting up to 40,000 pods in a day. Through rapid automation and scale of the process, it can cover and penetrate a much wider geographical area.”

“AirSeed is a business that is pushing the boundaries with an ambitious strategy around reforestation. Having seen first-hand how CAL has taken concepts such as NeedleSmart and worked in partnership to bring forward truly unique innovation, we knew CAL would be a good fit for AirSeed. CAL have taken responsibility for refining the design of the user interface and manufacturability of the seed pod delivery system. It was important that the engineering and build of this function would integrate into the flight systems and technical aspects of the aerial platform and tele metrics,” said Andrew Walker. “Working with CAL, they have managed to take an existing delivery system design and turn it into a unique pod delivery mechanism. The design and engineering that has gone into the aerial platform from CAL also means we can produce a great number of AirSeed aerial platforms and deploy these into the field quicker to speed up the process of reforestation which will help us in a race against time to mitigate climate change.”

The unique proposition of AirSeed’s aerial platform means it can operate in remote areas that are difficult to access due to challenging terrain or bushfire damage. The company claims that its aerial platform is 80% cheaper than current planting methods and 25 times faster than manual planting methods. 

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Posted by Phoebe Grinter Unmanned Systems Technology’s digital editor and copywriter Phoebe takes a fresh and enthusiastic approach to researching, writing and posting the latest unmanned technology updates, and in managing the UST social channels. Connect & Contact