Tue May 09, 2023
Guardian Agriculture, a leading developer of Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) systems for commercial-scale sustainable farming, announced that it has received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its aircraft nationwide.
FAA approval makes Guardian Agriculture the first commercially authorized eVTOL in the United States, allowing Guardian Agriculture to safely operate its systems across the country, and positioning it as a leader in the eVTOL space and the first to address the fast-growing agricultural use case.
Commercial farmers are rapidly moving away from ground spraying equipment in favor of unmanned autonomous systems; however, the majority of systems available today are too small to provide growers with full-field coverage at a competitive price point. Guardian Agriculture is now the only U.S. company to offer a viable solution — with an eVTOL size that delivers the same comprehensive coverage as traditional aerial crop dusting and ground spraying equipment, at the same or lower costs, all with digital precision, according to the manufacturer.
"eVTOL powered crop protection is better for crops, better for the environment, and better for growers' bottom line," Guardian Agriculture Founder and CEO Adam Bercu said. "We designed our system to meet the needs of commercial agriculture. Solving this real-world pain point is the right first step for eVTOL adoption at large. FAA approval represents an important turning point for American leadership in this fast-growing market."
The Guardian SC1 platform — which already has more than $100 million in customer orders — is the only autonomous, electric, aerial crop protection system designed specifically for large-scale agriculture. And unlike existing unmanned autonomous systems, Guardian designs and manufactures its system entirely within the United States, supporting U.S. competitiveness, jobs and ensuring national security.
"Aerial crop protection systems have operated the same way for decades," Wilbur-Ellis Vice president of Supplier Relations Willie Negroni said. "With the recent approval from the FAA, Guardian Agriculture is uniquely positioned to change the face of farming for the better. For the first time, we now have a reliable, cost-effective and sustainable solution in the form of the Guardian SC1. We are so confident in the technology and the Guardian team that we are not only a customer, but also an investor."
The Guardian SC1 precisely and safely delivers application of crop protection in a fraction of the time and cost. Using industry standard nozzles, pressure, droplet sizes and application volumes, Guardian's eVTOL aircraft systems are one of the safest and most cost-effective methods to deliver full-field application, according to the manufacturer.
The SC1 can carry 200-lb. payloads and address a wide range of application spray volumes and application needs for growers. With four 6-ft. propellers and a 15-ft. aircraft width, the SC1 efficiently covers 40 acres per hour of full-field crop protection to the grower. Combining an autonomous aircraft, a ground station supercharger and software generating domestically stored data, the Guardian SC1 offers on-target application to fields when and where necessary.
With this approval, Guardian Agriculture expects to be the first eVTOL manufacturer with systems operating at scale across the country, and the first to generate thousands of hours of commercial flight time.
"This is just the start. The real-world experience we'll accumulate allows us to demonstrate our system's safety and reliability, which we can leverage across other use cases and products outside of agriculture," Guardian Agriculture COO Jeff Sparks said.
Guardian Agriculture will begin commercial operations in support of its Wilbur-Ellis customer in California in the coming months as it continues to ramp up its production capacity.
Founded in 2017, and with offices in Massachusetts and California, Guardian Agriculture has assembled a world-class team of engineering, autonomy and manufacturing leaders that previously held executive-level positions at Apple, BAE, Sikorsky, Tesla and Uber — and its founder is a past BattleBots champion.