The Malaysian government has developed its own drone to monitor floods and collect data for relief operations.

Using remote sensing technology, the device will “relay real-time data on the ground which will be shared with the relevant agencies,” said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau.

Last December, eastern states in Malaysia were hit by severe floods which displaced thousands of people from their homes and resulted in 21 deaths.

Currently, the government uses images from satellites to monitor floods. “We will still use the satellites to obtain images of land, but for more detailed data, we will use the [drone] as it provides 3D motion images,” the Minister said.

In the future, data from the drone could be published online by the agencies and ministries involved in the relief operations.

The drone could also be used to monitor fire hotspots, illegal logging and farm auditing, Tangau said.

Research and development for the drone began in 2008, with its first flight in 2010. It has clocked a total of 180 hours or about a week of flying, with a maximum of four hours at a time. It runs on petrol and can fly up to 3 km high and can be controlled within a 100 km radius.

The RM3 million (US$710,909) device was built by the Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation, Remote Sensing Agency Malaysia, Multimedia University and Unmanned Systems Technology.