SelfieBot more than just a joke as New Zealand’s Dronies take off

They say that life imitates art, and proving that is a new technological trend happening in New Zealand reminiscent of an April Fools joke from earlier in the year, with a flying drone now able to take pictures of you as you go about your ski trip.

The quad-copters known as “drones” could be flying over you soon, capturing shots as you hit the slopes and tackle the soft white powder on a snowboard or a pair of skis, because it’s happening in New Zealand right now.

It’s a similar concept to one launched by robot maker Orbotix earlier in the year for April Fools, except this time it’s real. While Orbotix touted the SelfieBot as a drone that followed you, Tourism New Zealand is employing remotely controlled drones to take selfies of people holidaying in New Zealand’s snow spots, including Cardona, Coronet Peak, Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, Mount Hutt, and Queenstown.

It’s not just a picture selfie, either, with a small video made, generally taking a portrait of the rugged-up tourists before pulling out and showing some of the scenery they’re seeing.

Called the “NZdronie,” it’s a little more than just a Parrot with a small camera attached, with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone flying with a small camera capable of capturing either Full HD video or 14 megapixel images. We’ve seen these quad-copters up close and they’re very different from Parrot’s popular interactive toy drone, with a gimbal included to help stabilise the video and not show jitter or shake as they fly, making the videos look more professional than what you’d expect with high winds.

“New Zealand’s scenery is unparalleled so we wanted to give visitors the opportunity to show their spectacular surrounding to friends via social media, blowing a traditional selfie out of the water,” said Tony Saunders, General Manager of Tourism New Zealand in Australia.

“We are excited to be the first country to launch the new NZdronie service for consumers and hope it will add another dimension to the way people share their holiday memories. If a picture says a thousand words imagine what a dronie can do!”

Tourism New Zealand’s NZdronie will be hovering around ski areas in July and August, with pictures and videos visible through the #NZdronie hashtag.