Autonomous Drones for Pest Control

Features - Technology Update

AeroPest is introducing autonomous drones that have a variety of pest control functions.

September 14, 2022

AeroPest founder and Drexel University senior Harrison Hertzberg shown here with a Hummingbird prototype constructed from a converted flamethrower mounted to an octocopter drone.

Philadelphia-based tech firm AeroPest is introducing pest-hunting autonomous drones that scan environments, locate pests and fully automate dangerous elevated inspections in order to prevent worker falls. The company sells autonomous drones to digitally model structures. AeroPest’s software, AeroInspect, finds each pest within the model. This allows companies to conduct safer, cheaper, faster and more thorough inspections using autonomous drones without a skilled pilot. Additionally, AeroInpsect will conduct wood-destroying insect (WDI) inspections and identify termite and other pest damage, create reports and generate 3D structure models using artificial intelligence.

AeroPest is now developing AeroInspect as a mobile app that creates comprehensive inspection reports with only the images containing pests, pest nests and pest damage. AeroInspect’s artificial intelligence algorithms find pests within hundreds of images safely captured by an autonomous aerial camera drone. AeroInspect drones find more serviceable pests, and the evidence-based photo reports become the sales driver to convert prospects into paying customers, thereby increasing service revenues.

AeroPest is accepting sign-ups on their website to their limited software beta- testing program. These participants will be awarded with free, limited-time AeroInspect software subscriptions.

WHAT’S NEW? AeroPest was previously featured in PCT (“Tech Startup Banking on Wasp-Killing Drone,” PCT magazine, October 2021) after prototyping its Hummingbird, a wasp-killing, nest-spraying drone technology. While AeroPest continues to develop its Hummingbird precision spraying drone for specialty customers, the Federal Aviation Administration highly regulates aerial chemical applications. To address these regulations, development of the Woodpecker has begun. The drone-based vacuum technology can be used for the removal of wasp nests and other elevated pests. Since no chemicals are involved, the Woodpecker does not have to abide by the strict regulations that govern the Hummingbird. AeroPest has opened a waiting list for orders of its internationally patent-pending Woodpecker on its website.

AeroPest’s product road map aims to de-risk both elevated pest inspections as well as elevated pest control. AeroInspect plans to utilize autonomous drones to make elevated pest inspections safer. Subsequently, AeroPest’s Woodpecker will follow up to eliminate newly located and hard-to-reach pests.

The AeroInspect app solves a challenge sometimes encountered by pest management firms: showing customers evidence of pest problems encountered in hard-to-see areas, such as rooftops. Providing a photo report of the pest problem ensures to both residential and commercial customers the specifics and the location of the pest issue the technician has encountered. AeroPest believes the photo report will justify the cost of service to the decision-maker of the household/account who may not be present for the technician’s inspection or debrief

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AeroInspect clients will use autonomous Skydio drones, one of the most advanced commercially available, the firm says.

Pest companies quote fumigation treatments and other services using the square or cubic footage of the house or structure. This method sometimes requires a time-consuming manual measurement of the structure’s dimensions. AeroInspect will integrate existing modeling software into its app to allow customers to use their drones to generate accurate measurement data for quotes within minutes.

FIXING AND IMPROVING. The same issues with elevated pest elimination also exist with elevated pest inspections. For example, the same dangerous equipment, potential for injury, cost, time and liability exist during extermination as well as inspection, which is a necessary step in order to generate service revenues.

The two recurring complaints from pest management professionals about using drones are that they are difficult to fly (as well as easy to crash), especially close to buildings; and the time it would take for a technician to perform a thorough drone inspection with a low-resolution feed on a small controller screen. To solve the first issue, AeroInspect customers will use autonomous Skydio drones, one of the most advanced self-flying robots commercially available. To address the second issue, the AeroInspect app will use AI to perform the job of a keen inspector to identify in minutes the location of the pests and present a photo-based inspection report revealing the pests. AeroInspect subscribers will need to purchase a Skydio 2+ drone and Skydio 3D Scan software subscription from AeroPest.

AeroInspect transforms images of elevated pests captured safely during an aerial drone inspection into detailed evidence-based reports that serve as sales- increasing storytelling photo essays. Lastly, drones capture detailed photos from any angle while keeping workers safe from falls, which in turn shields pest companies from injury liability and high insurance premiums.

The author is the founder of AeroPest and a senior at Drexel University.