The Smart City Taiwan project has assisted Taiwan’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) intelligent product manufacturer IoT-APP Co. to promote the company’s pilot dispatching platform for agricultural drones to Indonesia. This helps reduce the agricultural manpower demand and improve pesticide spray efficiency in Indonesia.
Smart agricultural equipment effectively solves the labor shortage in agriculture
The shortage of agricultural labor has been a global chronic problem. As labor costs keep increasing, relying on manpower to take care of a large area of farmland could incur heavy labor costs. If there is a drought or flood that year to destroy their crops, farmers may lose all money. Therefore, introducing smart agricultural equipment, such as agricultural drones, picking robots, and pest management systems, is one of the feasible solutions to effectively reduce manpower demand and improve the efficiency of agricultural operations.
Agricultural drones still need to overcome two major pain points
Agricultural drones have become increasingly popular in the contemporary agricultural industry. However, there are still many challenges needed to be overcome when it comes to introducing the application of emerging technologies to existing agricultural operating procedures. There are two major pain points. The first pain point is that a drone pilot can only operate one drone at a time to carry out pesticide spray operations. And the other pain point is that the spray area of drones is relatively small compared to large-scale spraying equipment and thus may not be able to meet the spraying needs in Europe, America, and Southeast Asia.
On the other hand, the reuse and analysis of agricultural data have played an important role in smart and precision agricultural applications. From the perspective of the supply chain, when purchasing a drone from a drone supplier, it is difficult to collect the data required and analyze it using AI technology. Hence, most of the data collected has not been fully and effectively used.
The Smart City Taiwan Project helps develop a pilot dispatching platform for agricultural drones and increase the homegrown drone rate in Taiwan to more than 60%
The Taiwanese government has promoted the Smart City Taiwan project over the years. In the smart agriculture sector, this project has helped Taiwanese drone supplier IoT-APP set up test sites in New Taipei City, Taoyuan City, and Yunlin County. At the sites, IoT-APP has conducted testing on the feasibility of the company’s pilot dispatching platform for agricultural drones and the use of drones in large-scale farmland based on the Proof of Concept (POC) and the Proof of Business (POB). In addition, Taiwan’s Chung Yuan Christian University also facilitates IoT-APP to set up a new startup in Indonesia and move part of the company’s drone assembly business to Indonesia as well.
To increase the homemade rate of agricultural drones in Taiwan and the feasibility of agricultural drones for large-scale farmland, IoT-APP has worked on both the hardware and software of drones. In terms of software, through cooperation with Aeroprobing Inc., IoT-APP has developed a pilot dispatching platform for agricultural drones. Through the cooperation with Hongli Machinery Co. in hardware, IoT-APP has been able to conduct in-house operations in Taiwan for some parts of the shell mold and pipeline cutting of drone hardware. This has helped increase Taiwan’s homegrown rate of drones to 60%.
IoT-APP not only establishes an Indonesian agricultural sprayer fleet that increases pesticide spray efficiency by nearly 20 times but also trains 220 pilots in Taiwan and Indonesia
IoT-APP provides one-stop services for agricultural drones, comprising training, distribution, maintenance, and spraying services. The main feature of the pilot dispatching platform is the training of drone pilots. In addition, this solution allows one pilot to operate three drones at the same time, and quickly complete agricultural services such as sowing, spraying, insecticide, or fertilizing on nearly 100 hectares of farmland.
Utilizing one-stop agricultural drone services, IoT-APP has succeeded in training more than 220 Taiwanese and Indonesian drone pilots. In addition, the company has cooperated with Indonesia’s IPB University to sign a pilot training contract to help the country train agricultural spray pilots while building about 50 hectares of demonstration farmland. By establishing an agricultural spraying fleet in Indonesia, each drone can spray nearly 20 hectares a day, thereby improving spray efficiency by nearly 20 times.
At present, the total spraying area of this platform in Taiwan and Indonesia has reached 510 hectares, and it has created more than NT$12 million (US$ 370,000) in revenue from training and spraying services. On top of that, the company has also signed memorandum of understandings (MOUs) with a number of Indonesian companies, including PT.Agricorn Putra Sejati, PT. Fajar Alam Mandiri, PT.Sinar Fajar Mandiri (US$20 dollars per hectare contract), and several prestigious Indonesian universities.
The Smart City Taiwan Project fosters innovative solutions and brings them to the global market
The Smart City Taiwan Project utilizes the advantages of Taiwan in the high-tech industries and focuses on six areas related to people’s livelihood: healthcare, governance/safety, tourism/retail, agriculture, education, and transportation.
So far, the project has succeeded in driving 22 counties and cities and 319 companies in Taiwan to invest and come out with about 240 smart application solutions. Among them, 48 solutions in the fields of agricultural spraying, transportation, aquaculture, and education have been exported to 27 countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea. Since 2018, the derivative investment has reached NT$67.808 billion while the number of smart services used has exceeded 510 million with approximately 8.54 million paying users.
Tammy Yu, The Smart City Taiwan Project Office