Drones to provide bird's eye view of Sydney NYE fireworks


Night flying small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are set to deliver a brand new perspective of Sydney's fireworks spectacular later on this evening.

The Australian Broadcasting Association will be using two sRPAS to assist in the live coverage of Sydney's world famous New Years Eve celebration.

Australian Telecommunications company Telstra will also be flying a pair of specially outfitted sRPAS equipped with 6 GoPros (up, down, front, back, right, left) to provide 360-degree views from above as part of a promotional campaign - with footage from the flight available for viewing via a downloadable app following post production.

Excerpt from itnews.com.au

It (the ABC) plans to send two purpose-built quadcopters equipped with HD cameras and broadcast links 1000 ft above Sydney Harbour, which will feed live video to feature in its annual New Years Eve broadcast, alongside footage from nine harbourside cameras and a manned helicopter.

The remote aircraft will be flown by licenced pilots and will hover within the firework exclusion zone, a spokeswoman explained to iTnews.

The broadcaster has obtained approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to fly the drones at 1000 ft during the event.

"We're thrilled to be able to use this exciting new technology during our broadcast, to give audiences a spectacular and unique view of the world-famous Sydney New Year's Eve Fireworks," said the ABC’s special events boss Justin Holdforth.

The Telstra drones will also fly at 1000ft and feature six HD cameras each. Telstra will make its footage available after the event via a custom Sydney NYE app, to viewers in Australia and overseas.

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  • @Mike T - I was disappointed by footage as well.

    The master of FPV did a bit better in Hong Kong

    Personally I think Captain Blotto did a much better job. Tells a story with lovely shots. No idea who he is but I really liked his video.

    Happy New Year! May all your flying be safe and fun.

  • Mike T,

    Considering that the 'copter was right IN the fireworks, I think the operators weren't entirely sure the drone would survive!

  • Strange how the photo of the quad is on the wrong side of the harbour bridge considering the action occurs on the eastern side.

  • whats the issue? it has redundant everything. even a parachute for goodness sake. more people would've died driving on new years eve or from alcohol poisoning. honestly, its a non issue.

    they wouldve submitted a safety plan, got approval, and it was successful.to be honest the footage looks pretty rubbish. why they chose a terrible low light camera like a go pro is beyond me.

  • Ausdroid - I agree, a flying robot is less predictable by comparison.

    I wonder how the risks for this operation were assessed and quantified. They were obviously flying from a barge located out on the water, would have no doubt stayed clear of the shore and other boats (mostly the public observing the specticle on the Harbour from outside the exclusion zone). They would have likely had a kill switch to arrest any unpredictable behaviour before it had a chance to become a safety hazard. They may have also extensively tested the effects of firing fireworks at their sRPAS too - understanding effect of debris on props, explosive pressure on baro, etc, etc.... But I am just guessing.

    Has anyone seen the footage?

    I recorded and replayed the ABC broadcast of the midnight fireworks and saw only a few short seconds of relevant footage. The scene was hectic, and right in amongst the action. It appeared as if the feed was set, then immediately stopped. This might have been because the video link from the sRPAS was poor (as appeared to be the case with a number of their mobile feeds during the coverage) or it might have been some other reason. I would not be surprised if the reason the footage was not shown was because the producer saw the extreme footage coming from the drone and considered it unsuitable for broadcast due to the fact that (a) the footage might be considered evidence of unsafe operation, or (b) fear of the remote possibility they were at risk of broadcasting the world's first live international broadcast of a drone crash.

    Telstra's 360 viewable video has been uploaded. It is totally awesome... and again, the sRPAS was right in amongst the exploding fireworks. Really cool footage - the app is called 'Sydney NYE'
  • OK. The facts are that neither you nor I know the difference between MTBF of fireworks and Chinese drones but you're clearly upset that the regulator failed to consult you when granting permission to fly the Chinese drones. Despite this lapse, CASA are making large strides in their efforts to minimize aviation in this country by attempting to remove all Jabiru-powered aircraft from the airspace. Empty skies are safe skies and all that....
  • I know I should just let this go......but;

    1) What is the MBTF of a Sydney new year's eve firework compared to Chinese hobby grade autopilots?

    2) Fireworks are not rockets, they are shells, fired from mortars. They can never be "out of control" as they are in perfect projectile motion. ENTIRELY predictable. You can't beat the laws of physics.

    Please, I love an argument, but at least lets base it on some kind of fact or at least rationality.

  • ...oh, and I'm not sure which is more dangerous. Flying a couple of controllable quads over the harbour near 1.5million people or firing uncontrolled rockets into the air above them...
  • I'm sure the ZeroUAV website wasn't the entire substance of their application for approval...
  • From the zero UAV website;

    "Generally, because of imbalanced mechanical structure and external environment, multi-rotor will crash and be damaged without any power output. The humanistic protection function from Gemini autopilot, in Attitude or GPS Mode, keeps attitude under control even with any one power output failed and highly reduces crash risk."

    You're right. I feel so much better now.

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