These are two things that I didn’t think go together, but they do. There is a beetle spreading a fungus that rapidly kills avocado trees and spreads to other trees. However, a $150K grant is funding a Florida International University-University of Florida study that is attempting to use drones and dogs to stop this blight. UAS equipped with thermal imaging payloads find the distressed trees and then specially trained dogs seek out the smell from the tree infected with the laurel wilt disease.
Unfortunately, the disease often spreads through roots to other trees before the tree shows symptoms, but the dogs can detect infected trees before they show signs of disease. Avocado farming adds about $50 million to Florida’s economy, and more to California’s, so hopefully this proves “fruitful.” One video can be found here, and another below.
Florida is not open season for drones, however. The governor just signed into law a bill that restricts the ability of people to take images of private property. I encourage you to read the bill in its entirety, especially if you operate a drone in Florida (reminder, this is not legal advice!). It becomes effective July 1, 2015 and essentially prohibits a UAS from taking images of private property, or a person on that property, where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” That is basically defined as where one cannot be seen from street level. It also restricts government use to situations that pose an immediate risk or in which a search warrant has been obtained. The law provides from civil relief by the aggrieved party.