Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Unmanned Drone Industry Eyes Pacific As New Market
Drones could be used to monitor illegal fishing in Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 19, 2012) – Manufacturers of drones, or what are known nowadays as unmanned aircraft systems, are eyeing the Pacific region as a new market for their products.

The industry is seeing a shift in use of the remotely piloted flying devices from military to civil and commercial purposes.

Gretchen West of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems in the United States says some countries in the region have expressed interest in using the vehicles to feed back information on illegal fishing.

"This technology can be more affordable than using large manned aircraft. These UAS are actually operated by a human in a ground station so they’re safer to use and they’re more affordable so there is interest. Even though the technology has been around for decades, it’s a newer technology for this community."

Gretchen West says there are still challenges like perfecting the devices’ ability to sense and avoid other aircraft and that is one of the reasons they are banned for commercial use in the United States’ crowded airspace.

International and American civil aviation authorities are working on guidelines for commercial drones which have been also been used in conservation and assessing disasters like the Japanese tsunami.

Radio New Zealand International:
Copyright 2012 RNZI. All Rights Reserved

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