New Zealand to utilize drones for economic benefits

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The New Zealand Government on Wednesday launched its plan to better utilize drones for economic benefits.

Drones are estimated to be worth up to $5.3 billion to the New Zealand economy, New Zealand Transport Minister, Phil Twyford said at the launch of the government’s plan for drones on Wednesday.

The plan, known as “Taking Flight: an aviation system for the automated age,’’ sets out New Zealand government’s vision for how drones can be better integrated into the current transport system to develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector.

Twyford said drones will deliver economic benefits by doing tasks that are time-intensive, expensive and risky, such as monitoring crops, inspecting power lines and helping with emergency operations.

“New Zealand has an opportunity to be at the forefront of drone technology with sectors like forestry, agriculture and conservation already harnessing their abilities,’’  said Twyford.

It is understood that there are already over 77,000 drones in use in New Zealand.

However, the government has also identified challenges in drone use, such as safety and security issues:

“Safety is our top transport priority and there are a number of initiatives already underway, including looking at potential updates to the rules for using drones,’’  said Twyford.

Amaka E. Nliam