Who and what is Aerobot?
Simon Jardine began his adventures with drones, before they were even called drones, back in 2008 in RoseBank, Northern NSW.
He discovered an ability to tweak model helicopters to improve their flightability when his friends had bought a couple, but they just wouldn’t fly. He then discovered a small quadrocopter and began investigating components to build his own.
After about 2 solid years of testing and crashing available components, he found Mikrokopter, the German based flight control system. In comparison to the other systems previously tested, the Mikrokopter was solid and reliable. The hard part was tackling the German manual as Google Translate wasn’t quite up to speed as yet.
Drone History After a chance meeting at a small RC Hobby Garage in Lismore in May, 2008 with the just married and soon to be Mr and Mrs AeroNavics (nee DroidWorx), Simon, Rob and Linda formed a great friendship based off a mutual respect for the new technology. Rob and Linda would frequently visit Simon in his days of development, offering Chai Tea and encouragement as payment for information he stumbled upon in his research. Simon would always think outside the box and hunt for items that could make a solid and stable air-frame. One of these items was a dog chew toy! Tupperware was also a winner for component protection. Simon was a regular and respected contributor on RCGroups.com and shared his findings openly with other aspiring hobbyists. Videos were also regularly uploaded to Vimeo.com/quadrocopter. Simon’s innovative waterproof quadrocopter (2010) https://vimeo.com/10051940 attracted a lot of attention and so Aerobot.com.au was borne. The day Simon and his partner Flick registered the domain name Aerobot.com.au, Rob and Linda visited and exclaimed they had found a business name for their new airframe venture; Aerobot! Naturally they were very disappointed that they had just missed out on this name, but then came up with DroidWorx. DroidWorx began developing their carbon fibre airframes and Simon was the one to test the prototypes. Over the next couple of years, the relationship strained as Simon was inch by inch written out of DroidWorx history and their initial acknowledgement and thanks were no longer existent. The sales of RTF Drones didn’t really take off until around 2011/2012. People were afraid of the unknown and weren’t willing to explore such technology until around this time. DroidWorx were the top choice for professional airframes until FreeFly Systems hit the market with their super simple and uncomplicated airframe series – CineStar. Now there were 2 major players on the field, however since then, FreeFly Systems had been the real game changer in the drone industry. Until another player came along; DJI. Initially, DJI’s flight control systems left a lot to be desired. They were unreliable, unstable and unable to cope with varying wind conditions. However, due to the price of the complete quadrocopter setup, people all over the world were now able to afford their own flying camera. This is when drones really took off (so to speak).
Drones Today and Ambrym Volcano Expedition These days, so many people own the DJI Phantom and are capturing truly stunning aerial images. However, without the extensive skills, knowledge and dedication, only a few pilots are capable of capturing breath taking and awe-inspiring footage such as Simon’s last expedition to Ambrym Volcano in Vanuatu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50PdF9OM7Dc. The Phantom 2 with GoPro 4 Black were predominantly used for this expedition and proved enough to successfully map the volacano’s newly formed Marum Lava lake. Capturing aerial footage in 600deg temperatures was extraordinarily difficult. It was necessary to fine tune to the rhythm of the active volcano to know when the drone would be sucked in and spat out. It was a constant tug-of-war with the elements. The hardest part for Simon was not the flying, but the actual 1200ft descent and ascent back to the top of the crater. Being oddly enough, afraid of heights, Simon had his own fears that needed conquering. The weather would change at its own unpredictable will. Conditions could be clear with little to no breeze, but then swiftly change to winds of 60kts + with acid rain and the occasional dust devil. Needless to say, all returned safely with what they had hoped to achieve.