North Dakota Ag Department awards grant to French-based UAS company for infrastructure development

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:11 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KUMV) - The North Dakota Department of Agriculture awarded several grants to companies this month to better improve farming operations. One of them includes an unmanned aerial systems developer.

Vertipads, Inc. was given $150,000 from the department towards building infrastructure to service drones used in agriculture. The company designs “vertipads,” which provide landing space and services to drones. Eric Gauthier, CEO of Vertipads, says their infrastructure can lower costs and save time for many ag applications.

“If you had to make some treatments, you can fly the drone above your crops. No need for heavy machinery. You can do other things, for example, ranching. You can inspect your fence because inspecting your fence is long and difficult. Sometimes it can take a day by horse. That’s long. Aircraft can go very fast,” said Gauthier.

Vertipads is a UAS company stationed in France. Gauthier said they set up their North American headquarters in Grand Forks after meeting with state commerce officials last year. Gauthier added that the growing ecosystem due to the Vantis Network and support for UAS made North Dakota a prime location to work in.

“If you want to test for agriculture, oil and gas, delivery, or inspections, you can do all of that. This is the perfect place to come for the next stage of our startup,” said Gauthier.

In the future, Gauthier said drones will be able to make deliveries, citing spare parts and medicine as some of their goals.

Vertipads is currently working with UND’s Engineering and Aerospace department and NDSU’s Ag Tech program to develop several prototypes.