Image

NZ company’s solar-power drone to rethink aerial imaging

20 November 2020

A solar-powered, unmanned aircraft is being developed in Christchurch, New Zealand in the hope it will be a game changer for the aerial imaging industry.

Kea Aerospace is developing the Kea Atmos aircraft, which has a wingspan of 32m and weighs only 90kg. Covered in solar panels which power three electric motors, the aircraft will be able to fly for months on end.

Kea Aerospace chief executive Mark Rocket said the Kea Atmos would fly 20 times closer to the Earth than satellites, making images more affordable. It is hoped images collected by the aircraft can be used for precision agriculture, disaster management and environmental monitoring.

“Ultimately we would like to have our mission control here in Canterbury and have a whole fleet of these aircraft flying around the world constantly. “We think it could be used for so many things, obviously the first thing is going to be imagery first but eventually it could be used for things like communications and payload testing,” Rocket said.

Rocket, who is initially funding the project, said he had already received a lot of interest from investors. Kea Aerospace is only the second company to take part in the government’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme. The first was with Wisk a company testing a self-flying air-taxi in New Zealand.

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods said advanced aviation was growing in New Zealand and it brought high-paid jobs. “There are huge opportunities for New Zealand in this wider space. We have seen the success of Rocket Lab and we all [have] pride in what Rocket Lab have achieved.

“There are more opportunities for us as a country and that’s why the innovation partnerships at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are really pushing into this area,” Woods said. Kea Aerospace is working on prototypes with the first full-scale Kea Atmos expected to be built in 2022.

Photo/ RNZ / Nate McKinnon: Dr. Philipp Sueltrop (Chief Technology Officer) Mark Rocket (CEO Kea Aerospace) Megan Woods, Lianne Dalziel

Source: rnz.co.nz

Read More
Image

New tool to manage forestry slash

Better management of forest felling waste has gained new impetus in Cyclone Gabrielle’s wake, with the sector firmly in the spotlight for the impact such waste has had on communities, ecosystems, and farmland downstream from harvest areas. Rotorua-based forest management ...
Read more
Image

New multi-species carbon calculator available

A new multi-species carbon calculator developed by Mark Kimberley and Michael Watt to support grower decision-making is freely available on the Forest Growers Research website ( Multi-Species Carbon Calculator (fgr.nz)). The calculator predicts growth metrics for eleven species that include ...
Read more
Image

JOUAV unveils advanced airborne Lidar sensor

JOUAV has released the JoLiDAR-1000 Lidar sensor designed specifically for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) as the latest addition to its array of high-performance Lidar sensors for use in UAV applications such as GIS, surveying and precision powerline inspections. ...
Read more
Image

Wingtra debuts pioneering Lidar drone solution

Wingtra has unveiled its innovative Lidar-drone solution. The new Lidar payload is designed to seamlessly integrate the efficiency, ease of operation, and high accuracy of the WingtraOne GEN II drones with an advanced Wingtra-engineered Lidar sensor, offering notable advancements in ...
Read more
Image

Trimble and DroneDeploy improved UAV mapping

Trimble has unveiled the integration of the Trimble Applanix POSPac Cloud post-processed kinematic (PPK) GNSS positioning service, featuring CenterPoint RTX, with the UAV-based mapping and data collection capabilities of DroneDeploy’s reality capture platform. With the Trimble cloud positioning service, DroneDeploy ...
Read more
Image

Blue gum expansion & mechanised planting planned

Australia’s dwindling timber reserves could be exhausted in less than a decade, but industry experts are hoping a new native nursery in Western Australia could help ease the pressure. In the coastal city of Albany, 450 kilometres south of Perth, ...
Read more