RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota School of Mines students are working on some drone technology that could potentially protect lives and impact the agriculture industry.

The students have developed 10-inch-wide drones that fly together like a flock or swarm of birds without any manual control. KOTA-TV reports each drone has a thermal camera and sensors that detect nitrogen levels in fertilizer. Farmers would use the drones as a unit to more evenly disperse nutrients on fields.

The School of Mines says the technology can also help protect the lives of cell tower workers. Instead of sending a person to climb several hundred feet up to fix a problem, the drones can fly up and analyze what needs to be repaired.

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