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Large Scale Aerial Mapping in Marlborough

The Customer

GCH UAV were recently contacted by Andy Wiltshire of Pinoli Ltd, a premium pine nut growing and processing company, to undertake a 500-hectare aerial survey of their Windbreaker plantation located just out of Blenheim on the east coast of the South Island. Andy’s team were looking for imagery that would assist in planning mechanization of future harvest operations based on different slope classes and growth variation. They had used drone imagery before on their properties, but this job required some serious equipment and expertise because of its scale and the array of possible uses for the outputs.

The Location

Windbreaker Farm is situated on hilly landscape and the site presented to be operationally challenging. The plantation is exposed with multiple elevations and steep drop offs to the ocean below. Due to this, it was imperative that we scouted the site to ensure we had safe areas to take off, land and maintain line of sight to the drone.

The Craft

As the plantation is large it was the perfect opportunity for us to use our new Quantum Systems Trinity F90+ fitted with a PPK enabled, 42 megapixel Sony RX1R II camera. The Trinity is a fixed wing drone that allows 90 minutes of flight time per battery as opposed to our DJI M300, which we also use for mapping, offers just 35 minutes.

The Job

During our initial site visit we were joined by Jamie Gilbert at Scope Surveying who provided us with ground checkpoints to ensure our PPK data was accurate. After that we just waited for the ideal weather conditions to be able to safely fly. It wasn’t long until a beautiful blue Marlborough day was forecast, and we were able to get to work on this huge mapping job. The data was captured within 2 flights over the 600 hectares and then processed in house by GCH UAV.

Upon processing the 4,611 images we produced a 2.5d orthomosaic digital surface model and a 3d point cloud. The map is now available on the cloud so Andrew and his team can access and view it from anywhere with internet access. They are also able to add overlays to this model, such as property and block boundaries as well as take accurate distance and area measurements along with slope calculations.

The Next Phase

Training the AI to classify, count and categorise individual pine nut trees into vigour classes. Even using the compressed version of the orthomosaic, every single tree crown (there are several hundred thousand!) can be accurately identified. This will provide very high level inventory data, and facilitate separation of the terrain from the tree-crown surface, and from that, some interesting information on growth rates across different aspects and altitudes.
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Meet the Fleet - Trinity F90+

The newest craft to join the GCH UAV fleet is Quantum Systems Trinity F90+.

This impressively designed craft mixes the technology of multicopters with fixed wing drones. It has traditional drone style rotors which allow the F90+ to take off vertically, then, once it has reached its desired height, the drone has a short phase of transition. During this transition phase, the rotors, driven by electric motors, swivel from the vertical take-off position to a horizontal flight position allowing the F90+ to fly more efficiently over larger areas. On landing the F90+ spirals downwards and when the craft reaches 30m above the ground the rotors again transition into a vertical position allowing it to gracefully and safely land.

As we are currently experiencing a huge increase in demand for our Survey, Agricultural and Vineyard mapping services it was essential that we invested in a craft that was able to complete the tasks in a much shorter time frame than what can be achieved with traditional rotary wing drones. The F90+ has a flight time of 90 minutes which allows us to cover much vaster areas and capture more data in less time which is great for our customers as it reduces the cost per hectare. The F90+ made light work of the 6000 hectare multi spectral and high resolution RGB mapping job we recently completed in North Canterbury.

If you have a large area that you would like mapped please head to our contact page and get in touch, we would love to show you what this craft is capable of.
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Meet the Fleet - Matrice 300 RTK

Our DJI Matrice 300 RTK (M300) is the most advanced commercial/industrial drone available on the market. It utilises Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) positioning to generate precise position data which ensures the best possible accuracy. In addition to this it is also one of the safest drones on the market. The M300 boasts the best obstacle avoidance and aerial awareness tools making it the perfect choice for our more high risk jobs such as power line and asset inspection.

However, the most impressive part of the M300 is its unique camera system. Traditionally if you needed to capture images up close and at a distance the drone would need to be landed, the camera changed and then relaunched. The M300 offers both a powerful 20mp zoom camera and a 12mp wide angle camera alongside an integrated laser range finder capable of measuring distances to objects up to 1200m away. This camera capability proved very useful when we were recently asked to provide security assistance at a large day festival. By using the powerful zoom lens we were able to live stream high quality footage to the security team which made pinpointing potential dangers a breeze. We have also added a loudspeaker payload to this drone which allowed us to assist the Marlborough Harbourmaster in delivering safe boating messages within Picton marina.

All told the M300 is an absolute workhorse and the possible applications for this Drone are endless, Public Safety, utility, construction, inspection and many more.
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Drone to deliver safe boating messages in the Marlborough Sounds

In what is believed to be a New Zealand-first, Marlborough’s Harbourmaster will trial delivering safe boating messages by drone with a clip-on sound system.

“We hope that by combining drone technology with the humour and reach of brian fm it will be effective in encouraging people to get on board with safer boating”
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Marlborough company to shoot whales 'by the book' with drone permit

The first South Island permit to use a drone to film marine mammals up close has been granted.

The Department of Conservation has granted the permit to Marlborough company GCH UAV, allowing them to fly drones to within 20 metres of whales, dolphins and seals.
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Bird’s eye view as falcon meets drone

GCH UAV operations manager Colin Aitchison was filming near Oyster Bay when he was joined in the air by an inquisitive falcon who headed straight for the drone.

“I’ve never had one make a beeline like this to the drone, my first thought was how much flight time do I have left to deal with whatever is about to happen
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Turbine-powered drone aimed at farming sector displayed by GCH UAV at Agricultural Show

GCH UAV is trialing a large gas-turbine powered drone to service farming clients. GCH (formerly Garden City Helicopters) was showing off a Swiss-made SDO50 at the 2018 New Zealand Agricultural Show, carrying a $500,000 price tag.

GCH Aviation has bases NZ-wide and experience in helicopter and fixed wing services. It entered the UAV sector in Marlborough about two years ago and now flys electric drones to map farms and vineyards to monitor for pests, diseases and growing stresses such as moisture and nitrogen deficiencies.
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Drone and music combine for uplifting summer concert series in Marlborough

Marlborough4Fun will be giving people the bird’s eye view of popular spots around the region as part of its new “virtual helicopter tour” attraction.

Punters will be able to slap on a pair of goggles and get previously unseen, 360- degree views of Renwick, Picton and Pollard Park thanks to a drone camera.
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GCH UAV trial worlds most advanced drone in Christchurch

Engineered in Switzerland, this drone can fly up to 2000 meters high for as long as 2 hours per flight. It can also fly out of sight of its operator, as far as 100km away.

One of just thirty in the world, its versatility is its selling point. “In Switzerland, they started doing things like snow bombing for avalanche control. In Malaysia and Indonesia I believe they are doing search and rescue and support for that, so we think it’s a national fit for New Zealand.” - Daniel Currie, C.E.O

The drone is powered by a gas turbine engine and can carry up to 40 kilograms. Search and rescue, emergency services, and the private sector all see its potential.
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Human drone falls into new line of work at the biggest private aviation company in New Zealand

When Colin Aitchison started as a photographer, he was essentially a human drone. Jumping out of a plane with a heavy professional camera attached to his head, his job was to capture the thrills of skydiving, completing close to 9000 free falls.

Colin is now a member of the biggest private aviation company in New Zealand, GCH Aviation Group, which just opened a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) division. Aitchison moved to Blenheim in part to offer his multi-spectral imaging techniques to people growing grapes. It was used to help diagnose stressors in “high-value crops”, sometimes weeks before the human eye could spot them.

Their office is full of the latest and greatest gadgets; their newest drone is worth $75,000 with its camera alone costing $30,000.
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Maintenance-Repair

Maintenance and Repair

GCH UAV now offers an efficient, affordable local maintenance and repair service. From simple repairs to complete overhauls or periodic maintenance, we can handle it all. With a low assessment fee and experienced staff, we provide a dependable approach to keeping your drone airworthy. Saving you time and money by repairing locally.