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Aerial Technology set to Expand Horizons in Fiji

Aerial Technology set to Expand Horizons in Fiji
Sunil Datt enjoys what he does and has been selling produce for the last nine years. Photo: Karalaini Tavi.
August 23
16:09 2014

Aerial technology and robotics is still on the fast move. Fijian company Skyward Industries Limited is expanding again. The Nadi-based operation has been busy.

The company counts 16 machines in its fleet of multi-copters and fixed wing aircraft and keeps adding flight and ground equipment to meet the hungry demand – mainly for aerial video, photo and 3D mapping.

Skyward Industries managing director/CEO, Kevin Rotsaert, said: “The trend shows very encouraging results as customers are coming back for more services.

“Now that our customers see for themselves what our operation is capable of, they want more and at greater frequently.

“Therefore, not only do we increase our fleet size, but we are also recruiting pilots again, surveyors, engineers and office staff.

“We are already looking at much larger machines that will be rolled out by the end of the year after months of research and development.”

More

Customers want more indeed. From the present 50 km2 (12,000 acres) mapping area, the company is now requested areas beyond 400 km2 (99,000 acres).

Although the operations allow already for such coverage, the addition of much larger aircraft will boosts its delivery speed.

Crop health monitoring

But it does not stop with mapping. The company has developed its crop health monitoring and analysis capabilities and tests show very promising results already.

Mr Rotsaert also notes to inform the public of this upcoming technology.

“We are an aviation company and industry. People must remember that these machines fly and must be treated with the same respect as other aircraft,” he said.

He notes this industry is very serious and in order to keep people safe, his company and staff spend many months training and preparing.

“It is inevitable that such machines on a smaller recreational scale will be brought in, but we remind the public to follow local laws and be cleared with CAAF to ensure everyone’s safety,” he said.

Diversification

Thanks to the company’s management expertise and experience in aviation and engineering, much larger machines are under development and will be joining the fleet soon.

Following up on customer’s request, the company is developing aircraft capable of several hours of flight for surveillance, search and rescue, and much more.

To preserve quality and efficiency, the company needs a certain level of redundancy and is therefore not limiting development and production to single units.

Interestingly, with the satisfaction of its clients comes diversification of the company’s services.

For example, some clients have requested more conventional aviation support and development services.

Factory development

With 3D mapping and surveying tools, the company is developing a remote runway for a large factory development.

Together with these developments, the engineering team of the company is setting up a remote private based weather station system that enables the monitoring and analysis of wind, rain and soil moisture contents data.

This information is then used for dispatching the UAVs when necessary, irrigation of the grass runway and help contractors plan their work in advance.

The same goes for other clients that require the regular UAV services of the company.

Remote private weather stations are installed at customers’ sites allowing the operations to determine the flight conditions and make appropriate decisions, hence saving money to the clients and operating under safer conditions.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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