Michigan's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has launched a large-scale project with the purpose of improving water and nutrient management. Since it focuses primarily on innovative technology for aerial remote sensing, drones like the Carbonix Volanti can make a difference.
Volanti is a VTOL power lift drone created by Carbonix, an Australian company based in Sydney. Already successful in its home country, the Volanti made its debut in Michigan as part of MDARD's project. A team from a different company, the US-based consultant ArgenTech, was responsible for piloting the drone during the test flight.
A 3.6-meter (11.8 feet) UAV, Volanti combines a 1 kg (2.2 lbs) payload with a two-hour flight time. Most importantly, it can cover up to 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of difficult terrain. It was designed for fast aerial surveys in challenging conditions, which makes it a great match for Michigan's large areas that need this kind of survey.
Volanti combines VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) capabilities with the increased speed and efficiency of horizontal flight. In terms of payload sensors, it offers an impressive range, including photogrammetry, ISR, and multi-spectral.
Carbonix also developed a special, custom-built transport box for the Volanti. It's a reinforced transport case with foam inserts that can fit on any standard van. This way, the Volanti stays protected against any potential damage during transportation or when stored, which increases its durability. The UAV also comes with a Carbonix Ground Control Station. This is basically a portable command-and-control package with integrated joysticks for piloting the Volanti remotely.
Carbonix is over a decade old and one of Australia's top UAV experts. An America's Cup veteran, Dario Valenza, founded it in 2012. The company was one of the first to focus on long-range drones for aerial surveillance and high-precision data capture.
In addition to this milestone related to the Michigan debut, the Aussie company enjoyed another recent success. It's one of the Australian Aviation Awards 2023 finalists for "Best Innovation of the Year."
Carbonix's main manufacturing partner is Quickstep, which will be producing components for the Volanti UAV at its facility in Geelong, Victoria. Soon, this collaboration could extend to Carbonix's entire UAV range. At its debut in 2017, Volanti’s estimated price neared AUD 150,000 ($102,000).