Modernization in the field of agriculture can be observed, as automation is touching every aspect of life. Spraying fields of mind-boggling sizes with efficiency is a serious operational challenge. Pyka is taking on the largely human-powered spray business with an autonomous winged craft and working on regulatory approval.
We can take reference from DroneSeed; this type of flying is classified as risky for pilots, they have to fly very close to the ground and other obstacles, while maintaining a safe distance from other machinery. This type of flying involves a lot of repetitive flight patterns that must be executed with precision, over and over again.
How is Pyka different?
Pyka is approaching the drone industry unlike any other competitor in the market. The company has tended to the use of multi-rotor craft for its maneuverability and easy take-off and landing. However, those drones are unable to carry the weight and volume of pesticides and other chemicals, which, unfortunately, need to be sprayed at large scales.
The craft Pyka has built is based on a traditional idea, it resembles a traditional one-seater crop-dusting plane but without a cockpit. It glides using a trio of propellers, and most of the interior is dedicated to the payload that can carry about 450 pounds and batteries. The drone is also integrated with a sensing suite and onboard computer to handle the immediate demands of automated flight.
Pyka is able to take off or land on a 150-foot stretch of flat land, so one doesn’t have to worry about paving up a runway and draining energy getting to the target area. However, it’ll eventually require an exchange of batteries, which will be a part of the ground crew’s responsibilities. They’ll also be designing the overall course for the craft, though the actual flight path and moment-to-moment decisions are handled by the flight computer.
In other words, the plane apparently named as Egret can cover about a hundred acres per hour, about the same as a helicopter. However, the autonomous craft comes with improved precision (it flies lower) and safety (no human pulling difficult maneuvers every minute or two).
More importantly, the federals don’t mind it. Pyka promises to be the only company in the world having a commercially approved large autonomous electric aircraft. Drones have been approved left and right, but the Egret is approaching the size of a traditional “small aircraft”, like a Piper Cub.
The company’s founding team consists of Michael Norcia, Chuma Ogunwole, Kyle Moore, and Nathan White, formerly come from a variety of well-known companies working in adjacent spaces such as Cora, Kittyhawk, Joby Aviation, Google X, Waymo, and Morgan Stanley.
The $11 million seed round was led by Prime Movers Lab, with participation from Y Combinator, Greycroft, Data Collective, and Bold Capital Partners.