It is well past 8 p.m. on a Thursday, and engineers James Palmer and Cy Brown are a long way from their day jobs at Raven Research and Development in Lafayette. Palmer and Brown are in the middle of an expansive rice field in rural St. Landry Parish. It is pitch dark and mostly quiet. They are on a mission. “We do this every weekend,” said Brown, who is the team’s computer operator. “We will be out here all night.”
Armed with state-of-the-art gear, computers, infrared cameras and thermal imaging scopes, they are hunting. Their target is a herd of wild hogs that has been devastating a local farmer’s rice and soybean crops. Enter the “Dehogiflier,” the name Palmer and Brown have given their invention.
It is a domestic drone that can fly above dense, grassy fields and see into the night. The drone is almost silent and deadly accurate.
“It’s not really hunting,” Palmer said. “There is not much sport to it. It’s about getting the maximum advantage in order to get rid of the hogs.”
Across the country, drone technology, once used only by the military, is being developed for many other practical uses from taking aerial real estate photographs to monitoring oil pipelines. Right here in southwest Louisiana, Brown and Palmer have come up with their own groundbreaking application that may one day help farmers control this extremely destructive species.