A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) and Tauranga-based Envico Technologies, in preparation for a trial which will field test the use of predator-control drones for conservation.
MBIE General Manager of Science, Innovation and International, Dr Peter Crabtree, says Envico is the third industry partner to join the Government’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme, which supports world-leading aerospace companies to carry out the development, testing and market validation of advanced drones in New Zealand.
“One of the Programme’s goals is to accelerate the integration of drones into New Zealand airspace, in order to unlock the economic and social benefits on offer. Industry partners like Envico will also help to inform policy and regulatory development by sharing data and learnings obtained from the testing of their innovative platforms.
“The partnership with Envico adds to the work being undertaken by other industry partners in the Airspace Integration Trials Programme in the areas of passenger transport and high-altitude imaging, demonstrating the depth and breadth of New Zealand’s growing drone sector,” says Peter Crabtree.
Envico have a strong track record in predator control using drones, including the eradication of rodents on two islands in the Galapagos in 2019. In 2020, they were the recipients of a Department of Conservation grant, enabling them to begin a series of field trials using drones for dispersal of non-toxic cereal baits.
In order to scale up operations for these trials, Envico is developing a new, larger aerial baiting drone, converting a small helicopter to enable remotely piloted operations.
“We’re excited for the opportunities that come with being part of the Airspace Integration Trials Programme as we continue our development, says Envico Co-Founder Cameron Baker.
“This partnership will enable us to work closely with other industry partners in the programme, sharing our experiences and insights to further advance the aerospace industry in New Zealand.”
“I’m eager to see Envico’s progress as they continue development of their predator control drones in New Zealand, especially with a project that will help protect Aotearoa’s flora and fauna from invasive species,” says Peter Crabtree.