Ford and DJI to Connect Drones with Cars

Ford and DJI partner up to allow drones to take off and land on moving vehicles, helping in disaster situations.

We know that drones are probably the most exciting piece of tech for any hobbyist with extra cash in the pocket. Both individuals and companies are using drone technology to kill time, and to help humans in the process. Now, Ford is in talks with DJI and Amazon to implement drone technology in cars by allowing cars to communicate with drones in the air.

Generally, drones are used as a hobby. However, they can also be used to automatically map environments, deliver mail & goods, monitor traffic (and even hurricanes), study wildlife and help in search-and-rescue missions.

In search-and-rescue missions, such as natural disasters, drones can be programmed with GPS to follow a certain flightpath, and give crucial information about survivors and damage inflicted. Also, drones can be useful in cases when the driver cannot get out of the vehicle to survey a particular area.

After DJI recently released version 3.0 of the DJI SDK, which allows anyone to build apps to connect with DJI drones, Ford and DJI are partnering to offer a reward of $100,000 to a team of developers who build the best app to launch a drone from a moving vehicle in a simulated search-and-rescue scenario.

A team would have to successfully program a drone with a specific GPS flightpath and launch it from a Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck. The drone should connect with Ford’s SYNC AppLink or the Open XC platform. Once the drone is on its directed flightpath, it will capture a real-time feed while the truck would start to move, and the drone is required to follow the truck, land, and communicate the information to the driver.

"Using the driver’s smartphone, the F-150 would establish a real-time link between the drone, the truck and the cloud, so vehicle data can be shared. Data will be relayed to the drone so the driver can continue to a new destination, and the drone will catch up and dock with the truck,” Ford said.

This move is a shift witnessed in the present decade by automobile companies shifting to alternative technologies in order to improve their product line and consumer outlook.

“We want to put an exclamation point that we are moving from an auto company to an auto and mobility company. We’ve been at this a long time, but we will be accelerating going forward. This is about empowering customers and giving them a great experience,” says Mark Fields, CEO of Ford.

Ford believes the future of drones lies in agriculture, construction, bridge inspection, forestry and humanitarian missions.

Drones are becoming increasingly popular, with the FAA imposing a rule that all drones in the US need to registered before use.

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