Tourism New Zealand is to start using technology more associated with warzones in an effort to promote the country.
It’s offering to take pictures and videos of holidaymakers using a drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, initially at the South Island ski fields.
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said “dronies”, which are selfies taken using a drone, would give visitors a chance to capture their holiday moments in an unusual way.
He said professional operators would control the drones with the images offered free to consenting tourists who could upload them to social media.
If the flying cameras were successful they would be used in other tourism hotspots, after the initial two-month South Island campaign.
An award-winning Southland farming family are looking to the sky for inspiration to reduce costs on their hill country sheep, beef and cropping farm.
And Neil and Philippa Gardyne, with the technical expertise of their 13-year-old son Mark, have good cause for optimism.
With funding support from Beef+Lamb NZ, the Gardynes are adapting a drone to fly sorties over their sheep flocks on 466ha of flat, rolling to steep hill country in the Otama Valley north-west of Gore.
“We’re looking at using them as a farm tool,” Mr Gardyne explains.
“We’re still opening 120 gates a day at lambing time, so we decided to think a little bit outside the square on how we could simplify that.”
The Gardynes have rolled four-wheelers on their hill country in recent years so safety is a big factor in their search for a safer alternative.
Mark was just 11 when he started researching the Internet for information on drones.
“We spent 14 months researching them, which was difficult because there wasn’t a lot of information out there about their use in agriculture,” his father said.
With nothing available in New Zealand at the time, the Gardynes invested $4000 in a Chinese-made Hexocopter with six rotary blades, sourced from the United States.
For their money they got a high-spec machine powered by rechargeable lithium batteries and carrying two cameras. It weighs 1.8kg, carries a payload of 2kg and has all the technology for fully autonomous flight.
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A pair of super-lightweight miniature spectrometers from Ocean Optics (Netherlands) is helping researchers investigate plant parameters in a verdant patch of New Zealand grassland. The compact STS model spectrometers, one deployed as a ground unit and the other aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), are making synchronised hyperspectral measurements of barley and sugar beet crops to assess plant characteristics for more effective crop management. A multinational team of researchers from Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand developed the UAV-based system and conducted the initial experiments, gathering high-resolution reflectance spectra from the UAV at altitudes of up to 200 meters and irradiance spectra from the ground-based spectrometer. According to team leader Andreas Burkart of the Research Center Jülich IBG-2 Plant Sciences, Germany, collection of hyperspectral data by field spectroscopy is a time-consuming task and often is restricted to easily accessible areas. The small size and weight of the STS spectrometer is ideal for use on the UAV, which allows a series of fast and reproducible measurements over any terrain, even forest or marsh. By measuring various segments across a section of the New Zealand pastureland, the system was able to assess information such as specific plots that contained live vegetation. The STS is a remarkably small CMOS detector-based spectrometer that is less than 2 inches square (40 mm x 42 mm) and weighs a little over 2 ounces (68 g). It performs comparably to larger systems, providing full spectral analysis with low stray light, high signal to noise (>1500:1) and excellent optical resolution. For the application described here, the researchers were able to match the performance of the STS to that of a larger, more expensive commercially available field portable spectrometer, with optical resolution of ~2.5 nm (FWHM). – See more at: http://www.envirotech-online.com/news/portable-field-testing/43/ocean_optics/spectrometers_enable_field_application/26717/#sthash.sPN6GSGD.dpuf