Auckland team wins NZ drone competition


New Zealand’s screen and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industries stand to benefit from technology developed by VorTech, the winner of Callaghan Innovation’s inaugural C-PRIZE competition, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said today.

Launched in April, the first C-PRIZE competition aimed to boost New Zealand’s position as world-leader in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology and help keep the country’s innovative screen industry at the cutting-edge.

It challenged teams to design and build a prototype UAV (drone) that could overcome one of three obstacles that limit their use in the film and TV industry: strong wind, rotor noise and the need to track moving objects automatically.

“Team VorTech are a group of engineers based in Auckland that have developed the impressive Gyroscope UAV,” Mr Joyce says. “This uses an innovative propeller design that allows thrust in any direction, helping it hold position in gusty winds.

“They have also incorporated a range of advanced sensor systems to understand the environment the UAV is operating in. On top of the significant technical achievement, VorTech presented a very strong commercialisation plan.”

VorTech wins $50,000 and an expenses-paid trip to exhibit at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas, the largest international trade show for media content and technology.

The six finalists that were selected from 80 entries in July had less than four months to build and test their prototype.

“New Zealand is at the forefront of technology when it comes to making movies and television shows, but it’s less well known that we are also a leading designer of UAVs for use in industry,” Mr Joyce says.

“The C-PRIZE has helped two sectors to work together through a challenge format to quickly develop breakthrough technologies that will keep both at the top of their respective fields.”

Callaghan Innovation is the government organisation that helps businesses succeed through technology. It supports hi-tech businesses in New Zealand through product development, access to experts, R&D grants, and initiatives such as the C-PRIZE.

Callaghan Innovation brings together companies, entrepreneurs, future innovators and research organisations to accelerate commercialisation of innovation, achieve success through technology, and gain a competitive advantage for New Zealand businesses on the world stage.