IT may seem like something out of a science fiction movie. But drones are a reality and are in demand.
Drones can be used for aerial photography, surveying, agriculture and environmental protection, and police and emergency services.
"These are just a few some of the examples of things drones are capable of," said Helen Spurgeon and Wayne Chambers, of Aussie Drone Services.
"One of the most common comments we receive is around how we might use a drone for spying," they said.
"Obviously this is about as far from what we are interested in as is possible.
>> WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? Aussie Drone Services will be collecting scenic video footage from around the Northern Rivers, such as the footage from Eltham below, and we'll be posting it on our website. Wayne and Helen are open to suggestions. If you have a place you'd like to see, let us know in the comments section.
What drones are used for
- Aerial photography; stills and video e.g. business advertising and promotional videos.
- Surveying e.g. in mining
- Aerial observation e.g. spotting sharks or illegal land use
- Aerial inspections e.g. building progress or roof damage after a storm for insurance purposes
- Agriculture and environmental protection e.g. environmental degradation over time or crop management support
- Police and emergency services e.g. evidence gathering or training exercises
"We are keen to dispel some of these fears. Drones have many known and as yet unrealised applications."
Ms Spurgeon is in charge of business operations and Mr Chambers is chief pilot and maintenance officer.
"Wayne has previous aviation experience and, after we heard a radio interview last year about the growing role for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, we decided to start the business," Ms Spurgeon said.
"Combined with Wayne's Environmental Science degree, my background in marketing and both our research skills we saw plenty of potential," she said.
Mr Chambers said there were strict rules for flying drones commercially or for unpaid work for a charity.
Operators must be certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, responsible for managing Australia's airspace, and abide by its rules.
For drones that means:
- Flying less than 120m above the ground
- Not flying within 5.5km of an airport or helicopter landing area
- Not flying at night or in cloud
- Operators must maintain eye contact at all times
- Not flying above populous areas such as public gatherings
- Not flying closer than 30m from buildings such as houses, vehicles or boats.
"The biggest reason for these rules are around the safety and privacy of those on the ground as well as safety with regards to other aircraft in the sky that may well have passengers on board," Mr Chambers said.
Aussie Drone Services spent a year developing the business and achieving CASA compliance to ensure it exceeded standards.