Innovative eye in sky

It’s not a UFO . . . it’s an ‘octocopter’. At the controls is Simon Jardine and at the computer is Felicity Durham.
It’s not a UFO . . . it’s an ‘octocopter’. At the controls is Simon Jardine and at the computer is Felicity Durham.

A high-tech, remote-controlled ‘octocopter’ mounted with cameras and developed in the Byron Shire may become the latest weapon in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s fight against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic and other marine conservation battles.

Simon Jardine from Myocum, who developed the machine’, is in discussions with Sea Shepherd representatives from the United States and is expected to give them a demonstration of its capabilities in the near future.

Developed over two years, the machine features state-of-the art electronic GPS wizardry and video and still cameras.

The ‘octocopter’ – so called because of its eight propellers – is ‘flown’ like a helicopter and can be kept in the air for up to 30 minutes before batteries have to be recharged.

Simon said the machines were popular in Europe, especially in Germany, mostly for recreational purposes, but he believed he was the only ‘octocopter’ operator in Australia.

He said he developed his version of the ‘octocopter’ to provide an alternative and affordable aerial photographic service and had already completed a number of commercial jobs through his Eye in the Sky aerial imaging business.

They’ve included photos for real estate agents, Byron Council and a promotional video for Crystal Castle.

And as well as the discussions with Sea Shepherd, talks are also being held with a film crew doing a documentary on birds in Qatar.

Born in the UK, Simon is a professional photographer with an IT degree from Newcastle University (UK) and has lived in Australia for 12 years, the last five in the Byron Shire.

His partner, Felicity Durham, looks after the marketing side of the business and also controls the images sent back by the ‘octocopter’ to the ground-based computer while Simon ‘pilots’ it.

Felicity said there were many other areas where the ‘octocopter’ could be used, including locating bushfire ‘hot spots’.

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