Top-flight drone about to fly


A world-leading Queenstown tech firm’s drone is about to hit the market - at $US100,000 a pop.

Shotover Camera Systems is already renowned for its high-performance aerial camera systems used to shoot Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

The company has spent millions of dollars developing a premium drone with camera mounts - which it plans to launch at next month’s International Drone Expo in Los Angeles, United States.

The ‘U1’, as it’s called, can take a variety of camera and lens combinations on its light carbonfibre frame.

Shotover boss Brad Hurndell says the timing’s right for launch at the drone expo.

“It looks like it’s going to have all the major players.”

He says there didn’t appear to be any professional, high-end drone-camera systems available - so that’s what it set out to create.

“We’ve been designing it for about a year. The concept was another year before that.”

It’s being pitched at professional movie, television and advertising companies - basically, the companies already using its products.

The U1 weighs between 10.5kg and 30kg depending on payload, and has a flight time of between nine and 22 minutes.

The key component is the gyro-stabilised gimbal system Shotover’s world-famous for.

The drones are expected to sell for about $US100,000 a pop.

Shotover has only two New Zealand customers - the other 75 are spread over the globe, including the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The company already has pre-orders for the U1 - although Hurndell’s reluctant to say how many.

“We’ve been releasing images on social media and that’s been getting fantastic feedback. People are really excited about the product - it looks different, it looks innovative.”

Shotover was visited by Prime Minister John Key last December and earlier this year was a finalist in the New Zealand Hi-Tech awards.