The West

Invasion of the drones just business
Drone pilot Isaac Bowes guides his craft at South Perth. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Forget James Bond or taking out a political opponent, these drones come in peace.

And not just one or two drones - thousands are now being used across Australia for commercial use from surveying iron stockpiles to slick videos to sell homes.

But at $77,000 this is no toy and you need to be a certified Unmanned Aerial Vehicle pilot.

According to Aerial Aspects owner and pilot Isaac Bowes, the market for the UAVs is increasing dramatically as the capabilities become more widely known.

"Engineering, construction, mapping, environmental surveys, hazard assessment and search and rescue are just some of the uses," Mr Bowes said.

"The UAV can transmit video in real time, giving the operator or emergency personnel a closer look from any angle in an instant."

The UAV comes with an autopilot function and can be programmed for a precise flight path, using up to 14 satellites for positioning. Take-off weight for this high-tech wizardry? Just 3.5kg, made up of 2.5kg for UAV plus a 1kg camera. But it's no ordinary camera.

It has up to a 24-times zoom for pictures and video as well as timing functions.

"Using the GPS, we can schedule photography at regular intervals, giving the client an accurate set of time-lapse images of a project's progress from the same location and height," he said.

"And the UAV can take a photo from the balcony of a high-rise building before it's built - which is great for pre-selling."

It can also carry thermal imaging and night-vision cameras.

However, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has warned there are stiff penalties for illegal use.

Globally, the market for UAVs is soaring. It is estimated that by 2030, there will be 10,000 drones in the US alone.

Last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said it was working on a drone delivery service to get products to consumers within 30 minutes of ordering.

The West Australian

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