Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above | The Daily Post

Ingenious mouse trap at Unwin Hut

Looking down on a novel and innovative mousetrap in A Department of Conservation hut near Mt Cook during a school trip in 1981…the beer bottle is wrapped in a sock to stop it rolling away and had a chunk of cheese jammed in the opening…the rest is simple physics…

As much as I aspire to always use my own images in these challenges, this time I can’t resist putting in a plug for my mate, Rowland at Hawkeye UAV who has combined cutting-edge geospatial technologies with state of the art small UAS technologies for the ultimate in commercially-useful look-down applications. In addition, this is largely based on Kiwi home-grown innovation and smarts…

This imagery is from a recent task over New Plymouth, New Zealand and over a clearly urban area which gives the lie to the know-it-all doomsayers that state that small UAS can not operate safely over urban areas…

Hawkeye UAV New Plymoutn 2013-1

Hawkeye UAV New Plymouth 2013-2

…don’t forget that this is a 3D image – as you scroll it the perspective and relationships between features on the ground change…

Hawkeye UAV New Plymouth 2013-3

…and all done from Hawkeye’s own AreoHawk UAS…

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above | The Daily Post

Click to view some very cool imagery…even if it is only New Plymouth….

Off to a good start for the Year of the Snake

Latest update in from the lads at Hawkeye UAV…homegrown Kiwi technology in action!!

North Otago, New Zealand

Early in the New Year we travelled to the South Island to undertake a large task in the Waitaki river valley. The task consisted of the hi res survey of multiple wetlands and other sites earmarked for conservation along a 30km section of the valley in the vicinity of Kurow, North Otago. Having driven down from Christchurch we approached Kurow from the North and it was immediately apparent that the Waitaki river was in flood. A quick drive around the area, checking out both the Waitaki and Aviemore Dams confirmed that there was plenty of flow coming down.


After booking ourselves into the mighty Waitaki Hotel we settled into our stay and got on with the planning. With myself and David this time was Drew Gwyer, of Hawkeye UAV Americas, a very experienced aviator doing his “apprenticeship” on the AreoHawk. It was his second day in New Zealand too, so the rapid change from Maine, to Auckland, to Palmerston North and then ultimately Kurow was probably pretty eye opening! We did manage to treat him to some nice weather down there which was undoubtedly a good contrast to the snowstorms at home.


Damn hard to beat a North Otago pub!!!!

On the morning of the second day, complete with our bountiful packed lunches prepared by the tavern staff, we headed out early to begin flight ops. We had in the region of 12 tasks to conduct over the coming days, some of quite significant size (7-8km²). We managed a full day of flying with three full sorties and a good start to our overall programme of work.


We received reassuring confirmation that our published NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) had been observed by the local helicopter operators too, who checked in with us and maintained safe clearance via radio communications during their operations alongside us in the valley.

The next day started out well but unfortunately was soon blowing 50-70km/h of wind and while we did launch and test the conditions, it was plain that it wasn’t ideal for accurate data capture.


Once we had resumed flying ops we began making good progress along the valley and through our tasks. We operated from a variety of sites, most of them adjacent to the river or on farmland nearby, having been up and down on the first day and arranged access with the property owners.



During the 6 days down in the Waitaki we lost a couple of days to weather, both from wind and rain and that did give us a chance to visit Oamaru and Moeraki and also to further Drew’s exposure to the great kiwi flat white. We did finish the job successfully despite the weather hiccups and bade farewell to the Waitaki Hotel and its friendly staff, heading back north to Christchurch for our return home with a hard drive full of raw imagery for processing.

Reno, Nevada USA

Later in January Hawkeye UAV travelled to the USA to put on a series of demonstration flights in conjunction with Hawkeye UAV Americas (HUA), at Reno-Stead airfield in Nevada. This was in part sponsored by the good folks from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority who have a state sponsored initiative to promote the growth of the UAV industry at Reno-Stead, which is also home to the Reno Air Races. To say they were warmly accommodating doesn’t really do them service, they were fantastic. On the threshold of the lesser used cross vector runway at Reno-Stead they had set up a luxurious tent complete with gas heating, coffee and catering to keep us all in great style. What we also had but hadn’t bargained for was a lot of snow on the ground! Being mid-Winter Nevada did not disappoint, providing mind-focussing temperatures a couple of degrees above freezing. I must also add that being accommodated at a Casino-Hotel was a bit of an experience for us kiwis who can count the total number of real casinos at home on just one hand.


The plan for the week here was to demonstrate the setup, flight and capability of the AreoHawk system to a steady stream of VIP guests from a range of interested industries, culminating with a media day on the final day. With the help of HUA we got underway on the first day, and after a coffee or two and warming our hands we launched the Hawk into the crisp but sunny skies of Reno-Stead, which rests at 5,000’ above sea level.


We had an allocated “flight box” for our use from surface to 700’ AGL north and east of our location and proceeded to survey it, snow and all. Photographing snowy ground, especially from altitude, was going to present an interesting proposition and not something we had undertaken before, so we were curious to see just how well it would turn out, both the imagery and the point cloud.

Orthomosaic result from Reno-Stead demo flights

As it turned out, the results were very good. Here’s a snapshot of the orthomosaic generated. Note the tent and vehicles in the bottom right corner.

In all, we flew the Hawk four times in three days, with lots of news media and VIPs in attendance for the final flight. This one, like the preceding flights went completely without a hitch, and the interviews and questions afterwards lasted longer than the duration of the sortie!


Links to the corresponding media articles and news footage is here on our facebook page.

While at Reno-Stead we were also very fortunate to see some very cool aircraft, including a MiG-21 that did circuits right next to us, and we got to visit Aviation Classics, an amazing repair and custom refit shop.



Surveyors leading the way with UAV technology

The first UAV operator’s course of the year was run from the end of January through to mid-February. On the course were two staff from Beasley and Burgess Surveyors Ltd of Northland, and two from Juffermans Surveyors Ltd, of New Plymouth. Both companies have purchased AreoHawk systems and their operators have now completed training ready to undertake survey work with their new gear.

Hawkeye UAV Ltd’s commitment to ongoing support and working relationships will see us maintaining a mentoring and flight supervision role, plus providing advice and assistance with planning.

Kevin O’Connor and Associates Ltd of Palmerston North are the third North Island survey firm to purchase an AreoHawk system and their training is about to begin in the coming weeks.

Engagement with survey companies is a great step forward for us. Each one is in a distinct area or province and allows greater reach of our UAV technology into these areas. Surveyors have existing client bases that will be well-served by the AreoHawk system and will also now be able to control their own aerial photography and 3D terrain requirements of all sizes, without the need for outsourcing. Additionally, all their data will be processed at home in New Zealand rather than offshore.

More operations from Birlik Harita in Turkey

These photos are from our Turkish partners during a Cadastral Survey along the long and narrow Datça Peninsula. Datça has nine villages scattered along the peninsula. These are; Cumalı, Emecik, Hızırşah, Karaköy, Kızlan, Mesudiye, Sındı, Yakaköy, Yazıköy. The local villagers were intrigued with the UAV and spent all day with the crew from Birlik Harita.






New Zealand domestic services work

The following photograph is of Gareth in the Kawekas while on a Department of Conservation task monitoring pinus contorta. For this we conducted both RGB and NIR (Near Infra-Red) orthophotography at 4cm resolution. The area where the photo was taken is the only clear area of significance within the regulated flight range. This did cause some added thought to how to launch and recover the UAV, however that is part and parcel of the job. The start of the year has been mostly orthophotos, some with NIR and some without. We certainly welcome any task and hope to make the most of the great summer here in New Zealand at the moment.

!cid_0f4d4ccb90ce9d69500d2231273f05b4Wondering when this new-fangled technology will be gracing out skies more…? One really has to wonder why an ISR-short Government isn’t latching on to this…

Hawks Over Rangiora

There I was…cleaning out the hard drive…when I found this…a draft post from almost two years ago…some imagery that the lads at Hawkeye UAV shared with me after flying tasks in the direct aftermath of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake…

I’m not sure why I never posted this…possibly too many authoring tools and it was just overlooked…this mission was flown using Kahu as the team started its journey back north. Although Hawkeye’s capabilities have increased geometrically in pretty much every way (aircraft, sensors, software, etc) in the intervening two years, this series still is till a good look at the sequence of a mission from…


…initial mission planning in the flight control software…each of the dots on the map above represents the point where an image will be taken from the aircraft, taking into account factors like wind and light.

The next five images are part of the imagery set collected during the missions

181793_1602842074098_1327477019_31303247_3754878_n   181793_1602842234102_1327477019_31303251_3097191_n 181793_1602842194101_1327477019_31303250_2639623_n 181793_1602842154100_1327477019_31303249_8104646_n 181793_1602842114099_1327477019_31303248_4727725_n


These are then combined into a mosaic…in this case a thermal image of the town from a night mission because silly me has misplaced the daylight mosaic shot…


…and also the image of the 3D model of the town created from these 2D images are photogrammetric processing (some interesting work at Otago University on this process)…but here’s a short clip of some 3D imagery from another task…


Pretty cool…more so when it’s all homegrown Kiwi technology and ingenuity…

Like a fine wine, a good year…

Just in from Hawkeye UAV, their end of 2012 newsletter…

2012 is nearly at the close and since the last update there has been much to report.

Our new operators, in Turkey and South Africa respectively, have been busy flying sorties with their new AreoHawks.  Quickly settling into their work and undertaking a range of tasks and a lot of flying.  Some sample data from a Middle East survey task is shown here.


One of our AreoHawk airframes is currently being used as a testbed aircraft for the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology.  The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) here in New Zealand is undertaking a project to perform airborne testing and a capability study in conjunction with the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), who are sponsoring the project.  The AreoHawk has been selected as it is considered a robust and stable platform, with the ability to support modification and more weight.  The fuel cell technology is expected to push flight endurance out to 5-6 hours!

Serious game changer for Class I UAVs which have been traditionally limited by short legs…all of a sudden a CLASS I UAS could have a 200 km operating radius and still have a two hour loiter time over its objective…

Another AreoHawk airframe has been on display as part of an exhibition at The National Library of New Zealand, in Wellington.  Part of the “Big Data / Changing Place” programme, our aircraft represents a Kiwi company that is contributing big things in the world of data.  The exhibition and events run until the end of Aril 2013.

If you’re in the capital, GO AND SEE IT!!

Also here at home we have good news on covering the domestic services market.  Hawkeye UAV is forming partnerships with 3 established North Island survey companies.  Within their distinct regions these agencies will operate the AreoHawk, and grow the UAV survey capability around New Zealand with ongoing support from Hawkeye.  This collaborative arrangement will greatly help all parties and ease the pressure from the influx of domestic services work that keeps building month to month.

Amongst the tasks mentioned above are extended contracts for road building and engineering survey, conservation work and an extensive government facilities management portfolio (more on this next year).

We are making successful inroads into the development of both infra-red and multispectral data acquisition capabilities.  These will add some powerful tools to our arsenal and once again cement UAV technology as a very viable alternative to traditional manned aerial photography.

We have been mentioned in dispatches lately with a good news piece about our development of industry training packages for the safe and legal operation of UAV technology.  Published by the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO) this article reaffirms our safety-first and procedural approach, and recognises Hawkeye UAV Ltd.’s commitment to working as an operator certified by the Civil Aviation Authority.

ATTTO article

Long overdue and about time…this will both make the skies safer by requiring operators to be trained AND certified AND accountable.

A new and exciting development for us that has only occurred in the past few days is the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)certification of the AreoHawk for commercial use by our partner, AeroMetrex.  They are now the first AreoHawk UAV operator in Australia.  AeroMetrex, with the support of Hawkeye have been working very diligently with CASA for the better part of 2012 to obtain this endorsement. They promptly capped off this great news by announcing the sale of six AreoHawk systems within Australia.

CASA cert

Look for our write-up in the January edition of Coordinates magazine in the article “UAV/UAS – Potential and Challenges.”  Hawkeye has made a contribution on how we see the development of the technology and any hurdles to overcome.

Very way cool and great to see the Kiwi influence on the other side of the ditch…

Coming up early next year is a road trip of tasks and demonstrations in the western United States.  We have a succession of jobs to undertake that have been generated by the good work of Hawkeye UAV Americas (HUA).  There are some really interesting things on the list here, including the mapping of a whole town.  We hope to have some interesting shots and even more interesting stories to tell on our return.


Also in January Hawkeye will be running another UAV operators course for up to six new students.  These students, on completion of their conversion are likely to receive some serious on the job training as they are employed to assist with New Zealand tasks.  The summer months should permit plenty of flying and see each gain a lot of experience in a relatively short timeframe.



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


I see that the lads at Hawkeye UAS have updated their website from cool to uber-cool…(click above)

Also on the cool front…

From some very talented and generous folk in Poland…a new release in large scale paper planes…a Hawker Tempest V in 1/33….


…and something completely different…

While I totally lack anything like the hand-eye coordination needed to play even outdated computer games, let alone modern ones, I do really like the weird creations that seem to populate some of them…this too in in paper…



Ugly but cool