China’s SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s leading consumer-drone maker, to launch a crop sprayer that will test whether farming is fertile ground for drone technology.
DJI, which helped kick-start the global craze for drones, said the drone can fly for about 12 minutes. It can spray pesticides on seven to 10 acres of farmland per hour, depending on how much it needs to climb, descend or turn to follow the terrain.
The battery-powered DJI Agras MG-1 will be available first in China and South Korea, though the company didn’t specify exactly when it would go on sale. In China, DJI is taking preorders starting on Friday. The drone is expected to be available in other markets later, the company said.
Shenzhen-based DJI has found success selling drones to consumers and filmmakers since 2013, with revenue expected to exceed $1 billion this year.
The company, which is valued at roughly $8 billion based on its latest funding round, is now betting it can parlay that success into farming. Its push into the sector could open the way for other drone makers—or prove that agriculture isn’t the cornucopia for unmanned aircraft that some had hoped.