Jun 02

Top of the drone

New Zealand wants to stay in the drone competition, via its filming industry. The C-prize challenge, opened until next 5th of July, will unlock key features for UAVs.

Sightseeing New Zealand with your drone has been around for a few years now. But the tiny robotic flying objects are also good news for local business. Automated farming and harvesting, in vineyards for instance, could be an option in the near future. But, today, it’s mostly the movie and documentary industry that put UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to work.

Callaghan Innovation is launching a national competition called C-prize with several animation studios and drone makers. There are three different challenges, with up to 50,000 NZD for the winner. Each one is about tackling current limitations for drones in the filming industry. But, more broadly, these limitations also impair other drone applications :

  • Noise : drone noise is a major issue for post-production. This can be the case for other industry applications where the drone has to record high-definition sound (non-destructive testing…) ;
  • Stability : New Zealand can be quite windy ! Filming is one example where following path and reaching targets is vital, but there are many others (checking the structure integrity of a building…) ;
  • Tracking a moving object : again, this seems obvious for movie directors, but think of other tasks, like military strikes (yes, drones do that as well) or monitoring endangered species in their environment

C-prize organisers have put up a video of scenes shot by drones during summer 2014 in New Zealand :

Kiwi students, entrepreneurs and innovators have until the 5th of July to register for each challenge, while the winner will be known in late november. Word is out that James Cameron himself would be pleased to meet the chosen one…

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