The terrain doctor

by Kristin Chloe S. Pascual

Up in the sky, look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Itera Robota!

Itera Robota is a self-directed aircraft which provides aerial surveillance of terrains. What seems like an oversized robot-toy is actually equipped with lenses, sensors, and other devices that function altogether to survey the environment, specifically agricultural plantations mid-air.

Itera Robota makes possible to capture a top-view perspective of a certain place at a certain time. One of the creators of this technology, Dr. Vladimir Y. Mariano of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics at the University of the Philippines Los Baños shared that just as a doctor diagnoses a person from head to foot, Itera Robota works in the same way in monitoring and identifying problems that can be found in a target land area.

It was developed to come up with a quick way of assessing terrains. The technology is able to provide not just aerial images of the terrain but also ground data on water vapour, rainfall rate, and cloud motion which are used to monitor agriculture, forestry, and the environment.

For instance, images analysis of agricultural plantations may be used to identify plant diseases. Itera Robota renders a “full picture” of the terrain which can back up consultancy services on precision agriculture and crop management.

The technology is aimed to help its stakeholders arrive at better decisions for the agriculture and the environment from efficient and reliable data. As of now, Itera Robota is already dealing with its potential stakeholders such as International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD), Del Monte Philippines, and Philex Mining Corporation for partnerships.

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