The Navy is hoping to one day run a huge chunk of its fleet on biofuels. So the Navy’s advanced researchers — and their partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — are turning to a tiny robotic helicopter to help them figure out which crop they might be able to convert into their fuel of the future.
The experiment is taking place over 35,000 acres of Maui soil, on the fields of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, the state’s largest commercial sugar plantation. That’s the site of a $10 million, five-year gamble to test which of plantation’s crops might work as grow-your-jetfuel. The drone helicopter will track every temperature fluctuation and sprouting bud emerging into the Hawaiian sun.