Ford and DJI have announced that the $100,000 2016 DJI Developer Challenge would ask participants to engineer drone-to-vehicle communications using Ford’s AppLink or OpenXC technologies, for use by the UN in disaster relief.
The winning system would enable a driver to launch a drone from the bed of a Ford F-150, using touchscreen (linked to a smartphone app) inside the truck.
Ford’s statement of the challenge describes the desired result: “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.”
DJI’s program page and application for the challenge describe the contest in terms of the potential application for disaster relief:
…Successful solutions will be able to quickly take off from and land on a moving vehicle after surveying the area, and recognize objects and create a map of the scene.
The aircraft must autonomously enter the ‘disaster area’ and gather information on the location of the ‘survivors’, and transmit it back to the computing device in the vehicle. Having captured all necessary information, it must then automatically return and land on the moving vehicle.
• Primary Technical Challenge: Automatic landing on a moving vehicle
• Secondary Technical Challenge: Vision Guided Flight
• Tertiary Technical Challenge: Object Recognition
Ford sees the application as having broad implications across industries, saying that the software could enable drone-to-vehicle applications in agriculture, forestry, construction, bridge inspection, search and rescue, and other work environments. “At Ford, we are driving innovation in every part of our business to help make people’s lives better,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. “Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference with vehicles and drones working together for a common good.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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