It's 50 times cheaper and a lot less maintenance than a real helicopter. You just need to charge the batteries.Co-inventor Ross McAulayTwo Hawke's Bay inventors have turned a $1000 remote-controlled helicopter into an agile weed-killing machine.
Alastair Gossal and Ross McAulay cheaply transformed the motorised machine by sourcing second-hand parts in Hawke's Bay for just $125.
Ross McAulay, 18, says sourcing second-hand products made the modifications affordable.
"To build the model we sourced aluminium and plastic piping - we used a windscreen pump to pump out the poison," he said.
"We found a man in the United States who sells these helicopters' crop kits for about US$1700 ($2020) - and that's for his best model. We want to develop a model which people can afford."
McAulay says they decided to modify Gossal's aircraft, as they grew tired of flying it around in a circle. "We thought, 'We've got to do more with it', so we decided to experiment."
The two have clear roles in the project.
"Alistair is the driver in the operation and I'm the brains."
Their main aim was to make a cost-efficient machine everyone can use.
"It's 50 times cheaper and a lot less maintenance than a real helicopter. You just need to charge the batteries. It's comfortably suited for a small to medium block of land."
The two want to further develop their prototype as they see a big market potential.
"The possibilities are endless. People do see the potential.
"We are just starting to approach farmers and growers to see what their thoughts are."
McAulay is excited for the prototype's future - and his own.
"I am looking to get my helicopter licence in April.
"If that goes well, I want to be flying helicopters across the Bay.
Also I want to further develop the model and unlock more of its potential."