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Drones give unique view of Jekyll
While big-name businesses are bringing the discussion on drones to the forefront, Jekyll Island already has them beat.

No, the state-owned island doesn't have unmanned drones making door to door deliveries, but it's certainly capitalized on the technology to capture a whole new world and a different view of the island.

What began as a simple project involving a Segway outfitted with a high-definition camera has now taken to the skies, says Kevin Udell, Jekyll Island Authority director of sales.

"This all started out when Eric (Garvey, JIA chief information officer) began a Segway HD camera tour. We got incredible shots and then he said, 'By the way, I have this glider we could use for shots up in the air,'" Udell said. "It's morphed into the latest technology - drones."

There are excellent-quality videos filmed from the Segway available on the Jekyll Island Convention website, Udell says, and the glider itself provided some interesting shots, too.

But nothing has paralleled the images taken from the drone's bird's eye view. Like a miniature helicopter, the drone, known as an Optocopter, drifts through the moss-covered trees, presenting a view almost never seen before.

"It drifts through the trees and historic district, floats above the Club Hotel. The shots we get are so incredible," he said. "It puts the island in a different focus, letting people see how unique and special it is. The shots and even comments we get are mind-boggling."

Prior to the usage of drones, Udell says the technology simply wasn't available to capture the movie-like photographs and video they now have access to. And it's all at a fraction of the cost - the JIA simply rents the equipment.

Images from the drone's camera have given the outside world a new perspective on the island.

The one and only concern with the drones so far is battery life. Pushing against the ocean breeze often wears the battery down, so they're being extra careful, Udell says.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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