M3 Consulting group

Unmanned aircraft systems Research and Development

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who we are

The primary goal of M3 Consulting Group is aiding federal, state, academic, and corporate entities with the engineering and regulatory challenges that accompany Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). M3 Consulting Group specializes in the development and customization of UAS to support Plant Protection and Quarantine goals in diverse work environments. This work includes not only constructing aircraft and advancing open source software to safely operate systems, M3 also conducts field testing and technical transfer. Current research includes: Survey and detection of invasive plants and animals, the aerial release of sterile insects for SIT (sterile insect technique), and development of strategy and policy for the effective use of UAS in the National Airspace System.


M3 Consulting Group was selected as the 2017 USDA-APHIS Small Business Contractor of the Year for their service and support in bringing Unmanned Aircraft Systems into diverse missions within the United States Department of Agriculture.

2016 USDA-APHIS Small Business Contractor of the Year

M3 Consulting Group | Full Service UAS Provider

M3 provides end to end solutions from COA development to flight operations.



2017 featured research

Our research focuses on the practical use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in agriculture. We partner with academic, state and federal researchers to explore the applications and limitations of UAS in the National Airspace System. M3 Consulting Group is internationally recognized as a leader in the development of UAS in the area of Sterile Insect Technique and more broadly in Area-Wide Integrated Pest Management applications.

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Swarm sterile insect technique (United states)

Fruit Fly aerial release is currently the largest SIT effort in USDA-APHIS and uses conventional aircraft. Recently, we have used UAS in successful releases of pink bollworm with studies showing the sustained vitality and longevity of the insects post-release. Swarm technology, flying multiple UAS at once, may offer a means to approach the volume of insects released by conventional aircraft while offering reduced cost, risk, and time to deployment. When cloud ceilings are below minimum insect release heights, and conventional fixed wing aircraft are grounded due to inclement weather or Visual Flight Rules limitations, UAS may be able to complete flight missions to disperse sterile Mexican Fruit Flies into south Texas citrus groves. Current ground release methods using truck-mounted air blast equipment have been shown to provide uneven distributions of sterile flies, with large accumulations of flies around the grove/road interfaces.  UAS offers an alternative means and more uniform distribution of fruit flies than ground releases.

After the successful release of sterile pink bollworm during the summer of 2015, M3 Consulting Group began exploring other applications of UAS. Recently, the refinement of autopilot technologies for use with small UAS applications led to the possibility of using several UAS to autonomously fly as a “swarm” to achieve greater coverage and address payload limitations. Swarm technology provides control and monitoring of several UAS from a single computer and pilot. During the summer of 2017, We will assess how UAS and swarm technology may supplement the release of sterile fruit flies and other sterile insects.

Area Wide pink bollworm eradication program rapid response (united states)

Since 2014, M3 Consulting Group has Investigated the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) as a rapid response tool in support of the Area-Wide Pink Bollworm Eradication Program. During the summer of 2015, M3 Consulting Group, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture drafted and received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) and developed the M3 Desert Cardinal UAS. The M3 Desert Cardinal successfully released sterile pink bollworm - the first use of UAS for release of sterile insects in world history. The M3 Desert Cardinal was deployed during the summer of 2015 to eliminate small-scale outbreaks of PBW as soon as an incursion was detected (Moses-Gonzales and Walters 2015). The fixed wing UAS was successfully flew over 100 flights, released healthy, active sterile PBW, and was less expensive than its manned counterpart.

During 2016, M3 developed a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS to increase ease of use in the field when releasing sterile insects.  M3 Consulting Group also developed advanced handling, transport and release methods. These methods eliminated up to four handling points from lab to field, which may increase field performance.  The 2016 VTOL UAS has eight motors, takes approximately 90 seconds to set up and can release sterile insects within five minutes of arriving at the field site. the system is fully autonomous, from takeoff thru release and landing. The VTOL UAS can respond rapidly to a detection of wild type PBW and is deployable anywhere within the United States PBW eradication zone.

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proof of concept: release of Sterile codling moth via uas (canada)

Native to Europe and accidentally introduced to British Columbia during the 1900’s, codling moth inflicts damage on pear and apple orchards. A lepidoptera, codling moth is among the most economically costly and destructive pests in the world. In order to reduce the damage and cost associated with this invasive exotic pest the mass rearing of sterile codling moth began in 1992 with the first release of sterile codling moth occurring during 1994.

During 2015, the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program, M3 Consulting Group and New Zealand Plant and Food conducted studies to assess the efficacy and impact of UAS on the release of sterile codling moth. This study resulted in a 47% increase in sterile moth recapture rates achieved via UAS compared to conventional ground release methods.

M3 Consulting Group and the Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program will continue to advance this technology during the summer of 2017.

sterile Polynesian Tiger Mosquito aerial release via Unmanned aircraft system (French Polynesia)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) offer an additional means of releasing sterile insects aerially, can be deployed on short notice in a rapid response scenario, are less expensive and offer a safer means to release sterile insects than their traditional, manned aircraft, counterparts. Technologically, UAS afford researchers the ability to rapid prototype systems and components with considerably less financial burden and are capable of providing a high quality released insect, accurately targeted at the release site. UAS reduce the potential of injury, damage to property and death in operations that are dull, dirty or dangerous. These “3D’s” of UAS operations are especially relevant in areas where remote, rugged terrain may compromise a pilot’s ability to safely and accurately release sterile insects directly into a hot spot. Currently, we are exploring the development of techniques to aerially release sterilized mosquitoes, as a part of an ongoing suppression trials on the French Polynesian Atoll of Tetiaroa.

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survey of rangeland using remote sensing tools to delimit grasshopper breeding groups in the malheur national wildlife refuge and other north American rangeland environments (united states)

Since the mid-19th century, rangeland grasshopper and Mormon cricket have been a perennial threat to North American rangelands, the U.S. food supply, and have the potential to cost the US economy millions of dollars in damages to rangeland annually. Left unchecked, native rangelands damaged by outbreak populations can be overwhelmed by invasive plant species that replace desirable productive range with less desirable plants. M3 Consulting Group, along with federal, state, tribal, and private land managers have gone to great lengths to ensure that rangeland grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations remain below an economic impact threshold. Various range scientists have developed techniques, including the use of baits and the application of chemicals in order to manage populations and to ensure against outbreaks of rangeland pests. Historically, the Rangeland Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Management Program has developed, championed, and advanced several cutting edge-technologies, such as reduced area agent treatment strategies (RAAT) and field aerial application spray tower simulations (FAASSTT). The program now seeks to advance survey and assessment methods by utilizing UAS in regions where rangeland grasshopper and Mormon cricket present a threat to the rangelands of North America in an attempt to remotely detect grasshopper damage by estimating rangeland forage and health.

Why choose M3

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Trusted Consultant

M3 Consulting Group works with federal (both domestically and international), state and tribal nations on issues related to the safe integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System. M3 routinely briefs policy and decision makers on the strategy, development and implementation of UAS into the agricultural airspace.


International Reach

M3 Consulting Group works with agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, Louis Malardé Institue, Okanagan-Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program and New Zealand's Plant & Food Research to develop techniques and best practice for the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into their existing research.


Academic Rigor

M3 Consulting Group authors papers and gives presentations related to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in agriculture. M3 also participates in publishing material related to the eradication of invasive species, and develops methods to assess biological impact of sterile insects released via UAS. Beyond publications, M3 Consulting Groupsupports and advises research at American universities

Contact Us

M3 Consulting Group provides a wide array of services not only in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, but also project management and automation. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please reach us online.

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