Drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are the biggest growth industry of the early 21st Century. Their rise has been stratospheric. Flight, navigation, imaging, and automation system are constantly being developed. Consequently manufacturers are bringing out new models every 6 months. Given how capable they are, I thought I would put together a list of how I have made Palau drone.
I started to fly drones in Palau 5 years ago with a 450 class model and I got work immediately. Since then I’ve upgraded to an Inspire 1, then a Phantom 4 Pro for its longer flight times, image quality and stability. My company as a result now provides a range of aerial imaging services and flies daily. The technology has opened up a number of opportunities in Palau.
Flying from boats
My first job was documenting the burning of illegal fishing boats. This took place 11+miles offshore and lasted for 7 hours. We could launch from the main support vessel and fly over the scene multiple times during the burn. Logistically, it was far easier and vastly cheaper to use a drone rather than a light aircraft or helicopter. It also produced low level images that would have been impossible with a helicopter.
Flying from a boat can be a bit daunting. I would recommend that if you’re a beginner and not confident in what you’re doing, to avoid it. Because what goes up will also come down. It’s up to you to bring it down onto a very small area on a moving object. I always use an assistant if I can to act as launcher and catcher.
The northern main island of Palau known as Babeldaob, has huge tracts of land with barely a road near them. There has been rapid development of Palau in the last 6 years. It has meant that previously undeveloped land is now in high demand especially from foreign investors. As with real estate in the rest of the world, drones provide affordable aerial imaging of property. This enables clients to see what’s there from the aerial perspective. As long as I can get to within a few hundred meters of the site, the drone can fly the rest. It makes a great case when roads need to be built and the next best alternative is Google Earth.
Documenting the Rock Islands and Marine lakes of Palau
A drone is the next best thing to a Cessna for filming the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Rock Islands of Palau. One particularly cool aspect of the rock islands are the marine lakes that remain secluded within the islands. They can hold huge populations of Jellyfish and even Saltwater Crocodiles. Drones can fly into the cauldron of a lake, unmatched by any other method. This will provide a great tool for studying these unique environments. Read more on how I use cameras for innovative media production in Palau here.
Super crane for stunning B-roll
With a drone you can film a worm’s-eye-view then climb to 1500ft in the space of a minute without changing camera. A Quadcopter’s speed and maneuverability is unmatched by anything that doesn’t use jet turbines. With that in mind, one of my favorite shots is to track next to a presenter then ascend to show the environment they are in. Drones provide an incredible increase in production value for a filming project for a relatively small investment. They transform any production and inject the WOW factor. My company was commissioned to document the roads and bridges built in Palau. How to make a road or bridge interesting? Film it from a drone.
Population studies of sensitive animals.
Palau also has a Protected Areas Network that consists of terrestrial, freshwater and marine areas. A drone is invaluable for documenting these systems from Velasco Reef in the far north to Helen Reef in the far south. Their small size and low noise make them ideal for sneaking up on timid animals. For example, Dugongs and crocodiles are scared by a helicopter or 2 stroke engine.
One of the greatest uses for me in Palau with a drone was to document the extremely rare dugongs. We demonstrated that they lived in the area slated for dredging. As a result the footage proved decisive in stopping the dredging going ahead. Click on the photo below to watch footage of these amazing animals in the wild.
Advertising for resorts and businesses
With an increase in tourism, competition between resorts and hotels is greater than ever. Once more the flexibility of a drone becomes apparent. They can shoot from practically any angle at any altitude useful for that business. So it is therefore a much cheaper alternative to a Helicopter. Stable and of excellent quality. Raising the production value of any advertising.
360 Virtual Reality Photography
Virtual Reality has actually been around for years. But it is only recent technology that has made it available to regular consumers. The format is slowly going mainstream.
Camera companies have developed systems to render the drone invisible therefore creating a unique sense of flying to the user.
Another form of the real estate section. Software programs the drone to fly a certain path and take overlapping satellite view photos. The photos are stitched together into a high resolution map. Therefore the resolution depends on the altitude. Every photo has a GPS reference. Other metadata the software interprets enables 3D renders with gradients and volumes. An extremely useful tool for surveyors and realtors alike.
Flying a drone in Palau is available to anyone who can buy one. These guidelines should be followed.
- Please avoid flying higher than 120m or 300ft
- Do not fly whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Avoid flying over large crowds or too close to people
- Do not fly over busy roads. Drones distract drivers. Your drone could crash into a car.
- Do not fly in the flight paths of aircraft approaching or leaving the airport or air fields in Peleliu and Angaur for instance.
- Register your drone with the Palau aviation authority.