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For this very reason Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) has partnered with innovative Nelson unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company, DroneMate(external link). Together they are working to provide training to everyone that needs it.
Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also now creating real benefits within industries such as agriculture, aquaculture, construction, environmental, film and photography, forestry, horticulture, real estate, and surveying.
The recent two and a half day seminar coordinated by NMIT and DroneMate(external link) focused on using drones to produce highly accurate orthomosaic surveys (a really accurate photographic map). By the end of this course all students were armed with the information and tools needed to fly accurate surveys and pass on very tangible insights to their clients.
The information and accuracy of these surveys is truly mindboggling. From a quick 20 minute survey, over 20 hectares of land can be accurately mapped giving measurements right down to a few centimetres. This level of accuracy allows operators to quickly create very detailed geographic maps that can be used for drainage, area calculations, slope analysis and even stockpile volumes, and are very cost effective when compared to traditional methods of surveying.
The applications for Drones within horticulture are incredibly powerful. They can be used to fly a base map or survey and then this is repeated. With each new survey environmental changes can be tracked to identify sick plants, slow growth areas, irrigation leaks and many more useful insights. These areas can then be monitored closely to see how problems grow or shrink between surveys and specific actions taken. The information gathered can be used for activities such as variable fertiliser application, pruning, drainage, staff deployment, development, bird scaring, property maintenance and the list goes on.
As well as the fast and useful data drones can provide, operational drone training is vitally important within the industry. Many people interested in becoming involved with drones are simply unaware of the rules and regulations that have been put in place by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA)(external link) to protect both people and property. Simply going out and flying a drone can be incredibly reckless without understanding your responsibilities as a pilot and with the proper training.
New pilots who are proactive and interested can find what they need to know online. But not all novice pilots have the time or even know how to search for rules such as not flying higher than 120 meters (400 feet) above the ground or within 4 kilometres of a controlled airspace such as an airport or aerodrome.
For anyone interested in getting into UAV operation who doesn’t want to spend hours trolling the internet learning everything before they take off, specialised UAV training is perfect.
Simply understanding the aviation laws that UAVs operate under is one thing, but understanding how to fly safely and set up your drone is another thing altogether. It is important because doing this incorrectly can be very dangerous. Simple things like not calibrating your drone correctly, or not managing your batteries properly can get you into major trouble, not to mention expense. With the increasing popularity of drones it is inevitable that the number of drone crashes is also bound to rise, which again reaffirms why the correct training and processes are so important to operate them safely.
Learning this information from knowledgeable people within the industry is not only important for safety, but it also makes you as a pilot more confident when flying the drone. This is why it’s so important that every drone pilot has access to adequate training to make them both aware of the laws and regulations as well as inform them of best practice and procedure to protect their own safety and the safety of others. Owning and piloting a drone is more complex and comes with more responsibility than you think, not to mention how expensive getting things wrong can be.
NMIT and DroneMate advocate safety for every drone, pilot and flight. To cater for this we have specialised training for all levels of pilots ranging from beginners getting ready for their first flight, right up to experts operating at a commercial surveying level using specialised cameras and sensors.
If this sort of training is something that interests you please sign up for our drone training newsletter(external link) and we will be in contact with you as soon as our next course is available.