The unmanned aircraft systems community is buzzing after an Australian company announced it will test "BeeDar" technology in North Dakota.
Bee Innovative will partner with UND to test technology that can track bees in flight and bee recognition software to identify different kinds of bees.
The company had heard of UND because of the international reputation the school has, said director of the UAS program, Paul Snyder.
"Bee Innovative wants to combine with us and use the expertise at UND, not just in UAS but in earth systems science, policy and agriculture," Snyder said.
North Dakota is attractive because the state is a leading honey producer and has a large amount of sunflowers, Snyder said.
The company is using the technology to identify bee disease and optimize pollination patterns in Australia. In North Dakota, Bee Innovative would attach their "BeeDar" technology to an unmanned aircraft to identify where bees go and where researchers should place hives.
Preliminary studies have shown "huge yield increases" with the correct placement of hives, Snyder said.
"The initial study done in Australia was with blueberries, and the yield and size of blueberries increased. The cost to harvest went down because of the bigger size," Snyder said.
The state would also benefit from this kind of research, Snyder said, because of the amount of honey North Dakota produces.
"We're combining their expertise and our expertise to solve problems and find solutions that could really help state of North Dakota," Snyder said. "That's what's cool to me. I'm hoping we can bring it to fruition."
The company expects to be in North Dakota by the summer, Snyder said.