Environmental protection may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of drones. But the small consumer crafts are now being used in France to fight an invasive species of hornets that threaten to wipe out Europe's pollinating-bee population.
DroneVolt, which typically designs drones to film extreme sports like surfing and skiing, teamed up with bee experts and French chemical company Landes to make the new "Spray Hornet" drone. It's equipped with a tilting aerosol can of insecticide that wipes out entire nests of Asian hornets.
The seven-pound drone is equipped with a GoPro camera, allowing the drone flier to take a look at the hive, then spray a sulfate-free pesticide. The "mission" as the site calls it, can be carried out within five minutes. The drones are approved by the French government, the company said, and are licensed to be flown in cities.
DroneVolt's executive vice president of sales and marketing Daniel Roe said the drone came from a French beekeeper's need to get rid of nests that sit 30 to 50 feet above the ground. The beekeepers were using cherry-pickers, or a machine with a basket and crane to get close enough to spray the nests.
"That was the impetus for this particular drone," Roe told CNBC. Although the drone costs $11,200, Roe said consumers may eventually save money based on the cost of hiring cranes to get rid of nests.