Aerobot's team is comprised of some of the most creative, intelligent and passionate people around.
Simon Jardine - Director
Simon Jardine studied engineering and business and finance in the United Kingdom before returning to Australia in 1997.
His early interest in UAVs stemmed from involvement as a hobbyist with micro remote controlled (RC) helicopters. “I started modifying them to improve performance and aerodynamics by making them lighter, adjusting tail rotor pitch, tweaking yaw and adding small weights for better forward pitch,” he said.
“At around the time that I first found a reference to the early multi-rotors on the internet, I had become frustrated that I couldn’t successfully mount a camera on RC hobby helicopters.”
Jardine first became involved with the Universal Aerial Video Platform (UAVP), an open source community project to build a modern autonomously flying multicopter for hobbyists, and for aerial videography and photography. “I spent eight months running around in circles, testing different frames and motors on the UAVP flight controller board,” he said. “They would just drop out of the sky for no reason. I realised that the software was never going to be reliable enough to use commercially. I was close to quitting my multi-rotor project, and getting a real job.”
However, his commitment to multi-rotors was restored by contact from fellow UAV enthusiasts and prospective clients, through the aerial imaging business www.eyeinthesky.net.au operated by Jardine and his partner Felicity Durham.
“As a result, I sold my first machine, a UAVP quad.
“At around that time I acquired a flight control board and speed controllers from Holger Buss, principal of the fledgling German multi-rotor firm, MikroKopter. “ Within a week I was up and flying. It was incomparable. That was it for me.”
MikroKopter's Holger Buss and his partner Ingo, Jardine says, were the industry pacemakers, “the first ones to develop GPS and to work on things like biometric pressure/ altitude sensors...I emailed a request to be their MikroKopter partner here in Australasia, and they accepted.”
Jardine has since consolidated his reputation as a global pioneer of multi rotor systems, providing research and development for Droidworx (manufacturers of multi-rotor airframes and associated accessories) motors, propellors, materials, frame weights and sizes, test flying and programming.
Few have matched his significant investment in the high-risk and expensive R&D that has undoubtedly helped secure a future for safe, reliable multi-rotor machines.
His cost-effective innovations -- such as the ‘salad bowl’ MikroKopter, water-proofed in a plastic kitchenware container enabling it to not only hover safely over water, but to land on the surface for underwater footage, and to manoeuvre around like a ship -- are folklore on RC forums.
And few can match his resultant perspective of the shortcomings of many of the machines and components currently on the market. Says Jardine: “Generally speaking, aluminium frames have too much flex. Carbon frames, generally copies of the MikroKopter designs and centre plates, are identical, and some are far too flimsy. Hand-made Russian frames, while they show character, are not well-machined and are not asymmetrical. The fibreglass deX Quad, at a cost of E150, is light, superstrong and flies better than any -- but it has supply and demand issues.”
A mounting frustration with quality and design shortcomings of numerous components in the marketplace has driven Jardine to the decision to manufacture his own frames and to source the best components from Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic, Croatia and China, with a resolve to building the best multi-rotor on the market. “You always have to be moving forward, at a fast rate,” he says. “You can’t put the brakes on technology.
“I subscribe to the business philosophy that you should do what you love most in order to be successful. For me, that involves research and development combined with hundreds of hours flying multi-rotors. Perhaps ‘flying‘ is no longer the correct terminology for what we do. I think of it more as parking a camera in any given 3D space, on the most secure, stable platform we can provide. I am confident our exacting standards will give the new generation of Aerobot machines an edge in the burgeoning civilian market for multi-rotors.”
Felicity Durham - Director
Felicity Durham is the public face of Aerobot.
As a pilot, she still has her multi-copter ‘L’ Plates on.
But Felicity is the ‘back office’ powerhouse behind the rapidly growing global Aerobot brand.
Since meeting life and business partner Simon Jardine at Great Keppel Island, North Queensland, in 2006, Felicity has played a key strategic role in the growth of the business, given her responsibility for sales and marketing, training, photography and customer liaison and support. “Multi-rotors are our way of life,” Felicity says. “We literally live and breathe aerobots.”
Felicity has driven website development for Aerobot, resulting in one of the industry’s most comprehensive on-line shopping facilities, backed up by her development and publication online of training manuals, Manufacturer Training as required by CASA, and product assessments based on customer experience and Aerobot’s R&D program.
Her manual development includes detailed explanations of components and functions; PID Algorithms; flight safety processes and checks; and LithiumPoly battery management and not to mention all the tips and tricks for successful flight learned over the last 4 years.