Commercial drone shot down, police launch investigation

Police have started an investigation after a commercial drone understood to be worth almost $500,000 was shot down in a rural part of the ACT.

An ACT Policing spokesman confirmed officers responded to the incident in Tennent about 2.15pm on Thursday, February 14.

In Canberra, drones are being trialled to deliver food, beverages and medicine to suburbs and also to check vegetation is not growing too close to power lines. Photo: Nine

In Canberra, drones are being trialled to deliver food, beverages and medicine to suburbs and also to check vegetation is not growing too close to power lines. Photo: Nine

"Investigations into this matter remain ongoing," he said.

It is understood Evoenergy was using the drone to carry out surveying work when it was shot down near Apollo Road, and that local landholders had not been notified of the surveying work.

The drone and the equipment it was fitted with are understood to be worth nearly $500,000.

Evoenergy declined to answer questions about the incident. A spokeswoman said inquiries about "any matters related to unlawful behaviour" should be directed to ACT Policing.

Evoenergy's 2018 annual planning report said the company trialled the use of drones equipped with light detection and ranging technology last year and planned to test it further in 2019.

Known as LIDAR, light detection and ranging is a remote surveying method that measures the distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.

According to the Evoenergy report, drones with light detection and ranging capability could capture better data and photos from 30 metres above the ground than a helicopter could from 300 metres in the air.

"The results from the trial are promising with Evoenergy to further operationalise the use of drones to perform LIDAR scans to inspect and detect vegetation near power lines and other assets," the report said.

"We look forward to further testing the feasibility of the technology by scanning larger areas of our network in 2019 and using the data to maintain vegetation clearance, identify network defects to keep the network safe and reliable while improving our customer service and satisfaction at the same time."

Andrew Geikie, who owns farmland in Lanyon, not far from Tennent, said he had seen an increased number of drones in the rural area in recent years.

Mr Geikie said farmers were generally wary of unannounced drones in case they were being used by criminals or animal activists to spy on their properties.

"We've found a few in the paddocks too, where people have obviously flown them out of range and crashed," he said.

"From a farming perspective, I can understand being wary of drones, but I wouldn't shoot one down.

"There are better ways to handle things."

ACT Policing said anyone with information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.

Information can be provided anonymously, quoting reference number 6363695.