Focus on the Bay from on high

By Joseph Aldridge

A new business offering a birds-eye view at an affordable price has taken to the skies above Tauranga.

Atea Data is an aerial photography business that has utilised new technology to take pictures normally only available by sending a photographer up in a helicopter.

Using the octocopter - a remote controlled, multi-rotor drone - the team at Atea Data are able to take high-quality aerial photographs at a fraction of the cost of traditional aerial photography.

Photographer Moeava de Rosemont, originally from France, launched his business in 2011 using a helium balloon.

But he soon found the cost of helium in New Zealand prohibitive and started looking for other options.

The New Zealand-made octocopter proved more than an alternative for the balloon and new possibilities became obvious.

Mr De Rosemont works with drone pilot Reuben Abrahams and wears special goggles that allow him to see through the camera lens. He uses a remote controller to tilt or turn the camera to achieve the best angle.

The men have worked together during the past year to develop the capabilities of the octocopter and are now ready to take on commercial projects.

The octocopter can be controlled manually or pre-programmed to fly to specific GPS co-ordinates and hold its exact position while photographs are taken.

This feature has allowed Mr De Rosemont to stitch together multiple photographs and produce 360-degree panoramas.

The panoramas can be tailored online to hold information boxes and boundary outlines similar to Google Earth or Google Street View but much clearer and more specific to client needs.

Mr De Rosemont is pitching his services to obvious industries such as real estate, surveying and construction, but believes there are untapped possibilities for tourism operators, environmental monitors and horticulturalists.

He has constructed a 360-degree aerial view of Omokoroa that features place names, ferry information and highlighted properties.

The drone uses thermal imaging technology to take infra-red photographs to detect plant disease or show the extent of water pollution.

The applications are limitless and Atea Data's future is exciting, Mr De Rosemont says. "The panoramic virtual tour is a great marketing tool, particularly for New Zealand.

"This country is definitely beautiful at 360 degrees, which is not the case of some places I've visited and I would like to promote that beauty in this way."

The facts

The octocopter weighs 7kg (including batteries and camera)

It can fly at speeds of up to 25m/s

Civil Aviation rules limit its altitude to 40m in the city, and 120m outside the city.

The batteries allow the octocopter to fly for up to 10 minutes

- Bay of Plenty Times

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