Drone to kill unwanted insurgents on New Zealand soil

And I’m not joking

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year.

“We’ve got over 1000 monitoring stations on here which you try and get to at least once a month,” says Mr Sambell, who manages the sanctuary.

That means if a predator is detected, it could have up to a month’s headstart to get away from Mr Sambell’s team.

“The whole point of this is that we just don’t know what is going out there, and it’s crazy that with all this technology that we’ve got, why can’t we know these things?”

Mr Sambell vented his frustration to inventor Gian Badraun, who’s come up with the Trap Minder, a monitoring system that sends instant alerts by email, text, a computer program or smartphone app the instant a pest is detected.

That means biosecurity workers can act immediately to eradicate the pest, but soon they may not even need to move a muscle.

Eventually the Trap Minder system will communicate directly with a drone which could be set to automatically fly to the GPS coordinates of the incursion.

On one level, that’s so cool.  Yet on another, how do we stop people from implementing these on their own properties?  In their own gardens?  And will they know now to shoot at the kid that’s coming over the fence  just to get his tennis ball back?

For now, the drone is piloted by a person, and it’s armed with deadly artillery.

“As soon as we have that detection we can act on it by loading a bait station on the drone and sending the drone to those GPS coordinates to drop the bait station – and hopefully by then the rat is still there,” says Mr Badraun.

Mr Badraun won $25,000 at the inaugural Conservation Innovation Awards run by WWF for his invention.

Mr Sambell is trialling 20 Trap Minders over the summer at Glenfern Sanctuary, and he says the system’s potential is huge for the rest of the country’s reserves – especially uninhabited pest-free islands.

“Imagine if you had a drone sitting out there on that island. Someone in Auckland’s sitting there, they get a message on their mobile phone that says ‘You’ve just got an incursion on this uninhabited pest-free island, the drone is taking off and it’s about to drop bait out there.’ That is going to save a hell of a lot of time and money and headaches,” says Mr Sambell.

And that’s time Mr Sambell says will better spent on other vital time-consuming jobs like planting trees.

Can you imagine sitting in Auckland, and you get a message on your mobile that says “You’ve just got an incursion on this secret marijuana plot, the drone has taken off, and it’s about to engage the intruder”.

Just sayin’

– 3 News


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  • kiwibattler

    Makes you wonder if the lawmakers are on top of the ‘drone’ issue as they become cheaper to buy? Using drones for killing things and secretly filming others in the privacy of their homes, use of drones in built-up areas etc. I can just see a faulty drone coming down on the motorway or something……….

    • Aucky

      I can see my trusty shotgun coming in handy.

      • kehua

        Finally a use for my old kea gun.

        • Aucky

          Make a change from clay pigeons.

          • IKIDUNOT

            As long as they don’t start shooting back…..

  • williamabong

    Russell Norman has already demanded an enquiry, and wants no-fly zone over Coatsville, apparently he has some very good friends there he doesn’t want disturbed.

  • LabTested

    How long before the cops start using them to monitor the speed limit, I mean monitor dangerous roads. After all the Drones will pay for themselves

    • hookerphil

      Used planes once to monitor vehicles passing through to marked area, this would be a lot cheaper.

  • Clutch Cargo

    Corrections Department spent multi millions on erecting 3 stage, 6m high, razor barb topped, electrified security fences around prisons to combat contraband entering. A $300 drone from Dick Smith rendered that instantly useless.


      A tennisbal cut open stuffed with ‘contraband’ has been used for years…what’s new??

      • Clutch Cargo

        Whats new is the efficiency and range of the delivery. Even with a Roger Federer forearm, a punctured tennis bell is only good for about 60m. This may be within range of some prisons from a boundary but most are not. At best you may get inside a boundary or into a sterile zone but would still need the contraband to be collected by an outside work gang to be cheeked or charged and risk a search. Drones can deliver with pin point accuracy to units/yards within the wire or un monitored area.

  • The use of drones makes for an interesting ethical and potentially legal debate. The advent of quadcopters with small cameras immediately leads to potential invasion of privacy and one can see perverts using these things to spy into windows and so on. The uses are endless both good and bad and like LabTested below I can see them being quickly developed by the Police and used for surveillance and law enforcement. We live in an exposed society and as drones become smaller and have longer flight times we will have some real issues on our hands. No more nude sunbathing in the backyard I guess!

    • taurangaruru

      Think of the upside, the cops will spend all their time policing the illegal use of drones…& have no time to hide on the motorways pinging motorists for straying 1km over the speed limit

  • Hakaru

    Best use of a drone I have seen is one that is used by surf lifesavers to drop a floaty ring onto a person in dire straits in the water. Can usually arrive at the person within 30 seconds, drops the ring which then inflates on release so that the swimmer can have something to hold onto till help gets there. We need one of these at every beach covered by surf lifesaving. Maybe Air New Zealand would like to sponsor them as it does seem like a lot of our tourists get into trouble in the water. There is a design from the States that incorporates the ring into a drone.

  • cows4me

    Maybe there is hope for the Labour Party politicians, they wouldn’t need reeducating, they’re natural drones.

  • oldmanNZ

    The technology has been there years ago, you can get home alarm system that text you it has been activated, even send you a live video to your phone.

    For you pot plantation out in the deep forest, there is probably no cell phone coverage, but you can setup a radio transmission to hop to the nearest cell site.

    Anything is possible, at the right price.

    Even hacking into secured website, people sill do it for the right price.