Researchers program drones to find virus-infected potatoes

Posted at 11:03 AM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 13:03:36-05

Researchers at Idaho State University have programmed drones to be able to identify a potato-infecting virus.

The Capital Press reports researchers say they've been able to find individual plants infected with potato virus Y -- commonly called PVY -- with 90 percent accuracy using cameras mounted on drones.

Geosciences assistant professor Donna Delparte says she has successfully tested an algorithm to find PVY from spectral imaging. The algorithm allows machines to separate the PVY from other issues such as field variability and unrelated crop stress.

Graduate student Mike Griffel says the project can detect PVY earlier than people can spot virus symptoms by scouting fields. Griffel envisions the technology will eventually enable drones to text GPS coordinates of sick plants to field workers.

(by Associated Press)