Drones could count possums, drop 1080 under Raglan company's plans

Drones may be counting possums and dropping 1080 poison right where they are in a few years if plans by a Raglan company come to fruition.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp reports Aeronavics developed a drone camera designed to track rhinos and poachers in South Africa at any hour of the day.

The camera has infrared capability as well as a normal zoom camera, Linda Bulk of Aeronavics explained.

"The same would count for possums and other small animals," she said.

The company says it's proposing to build capabilities in the drones to have them autonomously scan large areas.

The drone would be an aerial pest counter - a way of tracking populations in dense bush.

They're also developing a system that could carry and drop poisons, like 1080, right where the pests are.

"The current way of distributing that is a blanket coverage through aeroplanes. But we think that with drones you can be a lot more precise," Ms Bulk said.

"For it to be fully autonomous we are looking at about three years," she said.

With a price tag starting at $60,000, there are hurdles Aeronavics still has to overcome.

Rob Browuer of Aeronavics said they are keen to talk to the New Zealand Government, "as we are going to need some support from them". 

But Aeronavics is convinced it's a system that could work.

"A lot of the technology that is required to do this we are already developing with other programs. So why not?" Mr Browuer said.

"It's just worth having a go at."

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    Aeronavics has helped with rhino conservation in Africa, now it’s turning its attention to helping New Zealand’s native species. Source: Seven Sharp