Today DJI unveiled the first consumer drone that comes with its own guidance system to stop mid-air collisions.
Consumer drones have not only improved over the years, but they’ve become much more self aware thanks to the technology and software on board. They can follow GPS waypoints, track its owners to capture footage, and in some cases be aware that it’s being tossed off of a mountain only to engage its propellers and save itself from an expensive crash landing. Unfortunately they’re also lacking awareness of its surroundings and often crashes into things if the owner isn’t paying attention or if something happens to be in its way whilst its following you. Fortunately DJI may have solved that problem.
DJI has today announced a new consumer drone called the Matrice 100 a new drone aimed at both consumers and developers along with an SDK so they can create a platform to use the drone however they see fit. The drone itself doesn’t look quite as attractive as the Phantom, but that’s not the point. This particular drone allows for developers and hobbyists to add things to the device not normally found on your out-of-the-box quadcopters.
Along with that they also unveiled Guidance, a brand new guidance system that allows for the quadcopter to be aware of its surroundings. Say the drone is hurtling towards a wall while you’re too busy checking Twitter, Guidance will allow the drone to slow down, avoid the obstacle, and continue on its original path. This works using a combination of ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras that allow it to detect objects up to 20 metres away and keeping your drone at a preconfigured distance.
What this new sense and avoid technology will do is help drones become more autonomous allowing for more ambitious projects using quadcopters to be achieved, such as a delivery drone, or one which stays out of harms way capturing fast-paced sports footage. One application this is being used in has been created at Fudan University in Shanghai that “uses Intel processors to detect illegally parked cars from the air.”
Guidance along with the Matrice 100 is the start of DJI’s attempt at becoming less of a manufacturer and more of a platform for the future of drone technology, and if this works as well as they say it will, they’re definitely on the way to something pretty amazing.