The National Innovation Agency (NIA) and Nest Group (Thailand) Co., Ltd. showcased proofs-of-concept (PoCs) from entrepreneurs of the first global AgTech programme ever to be held in Thailand to Thai and international investors, government officials, and corporate decision-makers at today’s “Demo Day” event.  

The accelerator programme “AGrowth”, supported by corporate partners, Siam Kubota Corporation and the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC) under Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Ltd. (MQDC), officially launched on October 1st this year to provide a platform for 10 selected startups from Australia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nigeria, USA and Thailand from a total of 240 applications.

This programme is to help the startups to further develop their innovative technologies in relation to plant technology, precision agriculture, automation, machine sharing, drones, indoor farming and farm management to help address the challenges that are facing the traditional farming practices in Thailand. 

“Agriculture is regarded as the backbone of Thailand’s economic and social development.  One out of three of our country’s workforce is in the agricultural sector, reflecting 25 million people out of Thailand’s total population.  However, the efficiency in agricultural production is below those of other countries, and one of the reasons is because there is a lack of innovation and technology application in this sector.  Therefore, in order to further stimulate and develop the Thai agricultural sector to become competitive and sustainable, these new technologies will become important tools to herald a new era for Thai agriculture.  Coinciding with the government’s BCG model, these participating startups will act as new economic warriors who have created innovative initiatives to better equip our farmers to cope with the future world of agriculture as well as enabling them to become global players on the world stage”, remarked Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director (Innovation Systems) of the National Innovation Agency (NIA).

Poladrone’s CEO, Jin Xi Cheong with Poladrone Thailand Country Lead, Aron, pictured at Agrowth Accelerator Event.

Agrowth has provided Poladrone with a stepping stone to kickstart its operations in Thailand. As mentioned earlier, agriculture, which is Poladrone’s main niche, plays a very crucial role in Thailand’s economy. 

Together with our program partner, Kubota Corporation, Poladrone set out to develop novel precision agriculture solutions by leveraging UAV technology. In the initial stage, the team decided to focus on the sugarcane crop, one of Thailand’s most important agriculture products. 

Specifically, the team aimed to develop algorithms that allow farmers to use multispectral aerial images to determine the sugar content, or the BRIX value, of the sugar canes in order to apply predictive models to optimise the time of harvest, better forecast yields and better detect any outbreak of disease.

Aron speaking at one of the Agrowth events.

The team first spent two months collecting ground and aerial data as well as compiling datasets of crop information. The data was then fed into a correlation model to develop predictive algorithms between aerial drone data and actual values as measured on the ground.

Poladrone will continue to refine its crop analytics programs in Thailand on sugarcane and hopes to develop similar solutions for other important Thai crops in the future.

Explore the latest cutting edge remote sensing data processing software in the market, Airamap by Poladrone.

Last Monday, we launched Airamap, our web-based precision mapping analytics software. W have been developing this software precisely to cater to aerial mapping and remote sensing landscape in this region.

We published a sneak peek of Airamap, basically, we talked about some of the amazing features of Airamap. Today, we will explore all about it on the uses of Airamap, how Airamap can help to optimise your business and how you can get started with Airamap.


Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is one of the reasons why Airamap was built, in order to cater to the agriculture industry in this region, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia. This is due to the lack of software in the market that is suitable to be used for local farming data.

One of the impressive features of Airamap is the ability to automatically assess the mapping data and tagged the tree count. This is suitable to be used in oil palm and durian plantation.

Image screenshot of tree count map from Airamap.

This process is done automatically by Airamap’s AI-powered engine which ensures accuracy and fast-paced processing.

Other than that, Airamap can be utilised extensively to analyse multispectral or NDVI heat map which contains invaluable insights to the conditions of your plant health and condition.

To read more about multispectral imaging and NDVI, you can do so here: Multispectral Imaging: Uses And Application.

Airamap has been used by some of our clients before it was launched and it is found that generally, the analytical results can help them to increase the harvest yield, detect problematic trees and plan replanting operations. 

Land Survey and Construction

In construction and land survey operations, it is very important to observe and analyse the site topography to ensure the operation can be taken with regards to the safety.

As such, Airamap helps to process the raw data taken from the remote sensing collection to be translated into topography and elevation maps.

These maps are essentially important for building construction and Airamap delivers accuracy with data taken with RTK drones such as Phantom 4 RTK which has the centimetre-level positioning accuracy.

This will ensure the developers can get a bird’s-eye view of the site to give them a better understanding of the area’s elevation, and next, taking measures to ensure the project would run smoothly.

This elevation maps (also can be in form of DTM, DSM, DEM and etc) are also being used extensively in quarry and mining sector.

Quarry elevation maps from Airamap

You check out Airamap features, simply just by creating an account in Airamap platform. To do so, click here to head towards Airamap homepage and you will be given a sample data to explore further.

Get to know in details about Airamap features by going through the user guide. If you are interested to subscribe to a free trial, you now can check out the free trial packages here.

Let’s follow this recent interview with Jin Xi Cheong, Poladrone’s CEO to see what made Poladrone as it is now.

For the past 3 years, Polarone has been ramping up and escalating at an incredible speed and steep exponential growth rate. From changing public perception of drone technology, bringing drone as an industrial solution and increasing productivity and output, Poldarone has achieved so much in a short span.
Today, you will be following me, Afiq to conduct an interview with Poladrone’s CEO, Jin Xi Cheong. Let’s get started!

(Afiq) Hello Jin Xi, nice to meet you. Before we start, can you tell us a little bit of your personal story? I mean – things like your age, where do you grow up and what and where did you study.

(Jin Xi) Hi Afiq! I grew up in KL and moved over to Melbourne when I was 14 after Form 2. I completed my secondary studies there, followed by a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering at Monash University before returning to KL in late 2015. After graduating, I worked as a Finance Analyst at Intel over in Penang to build up experience in my financial literacy before starting Poladrone.

Let’s jump right to our topic today, shall we? You founded a start-up at a very young age. What exactly moved you to make this leap of faith 3 years ago? And what inspired you to come up with the ideation of Poladrone?

From a young age, I knew that I would not be able to work in a large corporate. I was often the chief troublemaker throughout my childhood at school and had a problem dealing with authority, especially when it goes against my personal beliefs. As such, I recall vividly that I told my manager at Intel on the very first day that I would only stay to learn until I found better opportunity elsewhere.

This opportunity presented itself in the form of Poladrone. While I was working at Intel, I was actively pursuing aerial photography as a hobby. The initial idea for Poladrone was actually to make aerial photography easy and quick to everywhere, similar to Polaroid – resulting in the name “Pola”Drone. However, what I quickly realised was that while the hobbyist industry is popular in Malaysia, the number of industry utilising drones for solving industrial problems is somewhat lacking and there are pressing problems to be solved. As with all early stage companies, we quickly pivoted according to the market needs. Within 1 year after joining Intel, I left and started working full time in Poladrone.

As my parents’ hometown is in Kuala Lipis (the centre of Peninsular Malaysia – check your map), we were familiar with the agriculture industry and naturally built our solutions around our own problems. Over the past few years, continuous improvements shaped our company into one of the leading UAV companies for agriculture solutions.

I see. That’s an interesting story. Now, it has been a few years since Poladrone started to operate. I’m sure, like any other start-ups and companies, there are ups and downs in this journey. In your perspective, what was the biggest achievement for Poladrone and what was the biggest challenge/letdown that you and everyone in Poladrone faced so far?

One of the most memorable achievements for us was how we secured our first large customer in the oil palm segment in the early stages of our company. For the oil palm market, counting the number of palm trees in an estate is a critical task as it’s directly linked to their yield forecast and fertiliser allocations. As such, accuracy and speed is extremely important. When we met this particular customer, we were selling them a ‘fully automated AI solution” for counting when in fact, we did not even have a product ready yet. When it came to performing the demonstration of the product, what actually happened was that a few of us sat down and manually counted tens of thousands of trees in a short time span. It was a very manual process but from the perspective of the customer, this ‘algorithm’ got the job done quickly, and very accurately! Thus, we got the contract and since then figured out how to make things more efficient and automated.

In terms of setbacks, we had our fair share of them be it lost contracts, uninterested partners, unconverted investments, but one critical mistake that I made was for a product launch. We were planning for the launch of an important product, and I got carried away by putting too much importance in making the launch look good, instead of targeting the right audience. A lot of things went wrong, but in summary, we realised that we trusted the wrong partner and ended up burning quite a lot of resources without achieving our targets.

Before we wrap this interview up, let’s talk about your vision for Poladrone. 5 years time may be a bit intimidating, let’s see where you visioned Poladrone in 2 years time.

I envision Poladrone to establish a solid footprint regionally around South East Asia and potentially beyond over the next couple of years. We had already established a strong profile within Malaysia through our agriculture solutions and will leverage our expertise to scale our products to neighbouring markets in the region.