Boulder businessmen targeting agriculture with drones

FAA regulations working to catch up with potential commercial applications

Two Boulder businesses are hoping to bring pioneering drone technology to the age-old business of farming — if only federal regulators will let them out of the barn.

InventWorks and Boulder Labs have developed a drone they believe could revolutionize the multibillion-dollar business of agriculture, by offering farmers precise location of weeds that require suppression far more efficiently than could be achieved by any other means.

To some they are known as unmanned aircraft systems, and to others they are autonomous aerial vehicles, but in headlines they are drones. And for many, anything with that label smacks of lethal military strikes or spying.

“In the area of drones, when people are horrified, it’s because they

Tom McKinnon, managing director of InventWorks, shows a new drone that InventWorks and Boulder Labs have developed to help farmers with weed suppression. ( RACHEL WOOLF )

assume it’s only a military technology, and they say, “They should be illegal,'” said Tom McKinnon, managing director of InventWorks. “But when you ask should they be available to help out in the search for a missing child, they say, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ As long as the scary stuff is off the table, such as weaponizing drones, generally, the public is in favor of it.”

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