News, Research and Development

Tiny crop-health sensors could help cut the cost of groceries

A compact, lightweight sensor system with infrared imaging capabilities developed by an international team of engineers could be easily fitted to a drone for remote crop monitoring.

This flat-optics technology has the potential to replace traditional optical lens applications for environmental sensing in a range of industries.

This innovation could result in cheaper groceries as farmers would be able to pinpoint which crops require irrigation, fertilisation and pest control, thereby potentially boosting their harvests.

This is opposed to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach.

The sensor system can rapidly switch between edge detection, imaging the outline of an object, such as a fruit and extracting detailed infrared information.

The system can perform these functions without the need for creating large volumes of data and using bulky external processors.

The capability to switch to a detailed infrared image is a new development in the field and could allow farmers to collect more information when the remote sensor identifies areas of potential pest infestations.

This research by engineers at the City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) is published in Nature Communications.

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