Taking a drone to new heights

Taking a drone to new heights

Days spent messing about in a field with a quadcopter and a tractor have resulted in a promising business concept for two enterprising CPIT engineering students.

Flying drones and smart technology in farm management is a fast-growing industry in New Zealand, with unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) proving to be time and labour-saving devices in the management of large farm blocks. Images from these overhead drones help monitor activities such as stock movement, along with feed assessment, weed and pest management.

George Prattley and Harry Loughnan's stunning footage of a tractor in action filmed from their purpose-built drone has earned them a place in the annual Entre $85K Challenge, an entrepreneurial competition for Canterbury tertiary students. They were one of nine teams selected as finalists.


Engineering students

CAPTION:Engineering students Harry Loughnan and George Prattley have devised an innovative way to view the performance of farm machinery.

"At first it just started out with us filming farm equipment and thinking yeah this could be kind of cool. Then it turned into more of a business proposition as we saw the potential," Loughnan says.

The innovative pair plan to extend how drones can be used to show farm machinery, such as tractors, ploughs and harvesters in action, from above and alongside.

"The videos show all aspects of how the farm machinery performs from the air, including close-up shots to show key operational parts in action," Loughnan says.

Loughnan and Prattley have been trialling their business proposal, GH Aerial, with various companies, with a view to making marketing videos to promote farm machinery features and brands.

The pair, who are both studying the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering, will present their innovation at the Entre $85K Challenge's dragons den-style final on September 17. Last year, the competition and $15,000 in prize money was won by CPIT Graduate Diploma of Innovation and Entrepreneurship student Elizabeth Riach, with her hand-painted shoes, "My Killa Heels" business proposition.