Since DJI launched their drone developer platform, the Manifold, at the end of 2015, both commercial drones and compute power have evolved. Industrial applications for drones have expanded significantly, to include advanced operations in more remote and difficult to reach areas. Computing power has expanded also, with artificial intelligence and machine learning “at the edge,” or onboard a device, becoming a critical component of drone and other internet of things (IoT) technology.
The world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, is evolving its systems to meet and anticipate new and future commercial applications. This morning DJI announced Manifold 2, a major update to its compact onboard supercomputer for drones.
Manifold 2 “will enable the next-generation of autonomous aerial robotics by allowing businesses, developers and researchers to build advanced autonomous aerial robotics solutions for nearly any industry or task,” says DJI. Automodality, a producer of advanced UAV control software used for enterprise inspections is already using Manifold 2 in its navigation suite for industrial inspections. “By empowering the drone to perceive and analyze in real-time, Manifold 2 opens new areas and capabilities and allows Automodality-equipped DJI Matrice 210s to autonomously fly where no one else has flown before, in GPS and radio frequency-denied environments where the most valuable and actionable data resides,” says Automodality.
The following is a DJI press release.
DJI Manifold 2 Onboard Supercomputer Transforms Drones Into Autonomous Robots
May 28, 2019 – DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, announced Manifold 2, an ultra-compact onboard supercomputer for DJI drones that enables the next-generation of autonomous aerial robotics solutions. With the additional compute capability of Manifold 2, users can process complex image data onboard the drone and get results immediately, and can program drones to fly autonomously while identifying objects and avoiding obstacles.
“Through partnerships with some of the industry’s leading computing companies and chip manufacturers, we are enabling DJI drones to become intelligent flying robots that can perform complex computing tasks and advanced image processing literally on the fly,” said Jan Gasparic, DJI Director of Strategic Partnerships at DJI. “Manifold 2 expands the use cases of drone technology exponentially by allowing businesses, developers and researchers to build the most advanced autonomous aerial robotics solutions for nearly any industry or task.”
Manifold 2 provides powerful intelligence for a variety of applications with the ability to choose between an Intel® Core™ i7-8550U CPU or NVIDIA® Jetson™ TX2 supercomputer on a module for AI at the edge. Both versions are compatible with DJI’s leading enterprise drones including the Matrice 210 series and Matrice 600 series and can be integrated into the drone’s internal systems and sensors using DJI’s powerful software development kit, allowing for open customization and seamless integration into the DJI ecosystem of software and hardware solution providers. Each Manifold 2 includes USB, UART, CAN ports and more, allowing developers to link multiple Manifold 2 processors and build on top of them to transform DJI drones into specialized aerial robots for specific applications and industries.
“DJI Manifold 2 not only enables the advanced computer vision, perception and navigation featured in Automodality’s patented AMROS™ and Perceptive Navigation® platform suite, it also enables next-generation artificial intelligence out on the edge, a hallmark of Automodality’s software and service offering for industrial inspections,” said Ed Koch, Chief Technology Officer at Automodality, a leading company developing autonomous drone solutions. “By empowering the drone to perceive and analyze in real-time, Manifold 2 opens new areas and capabilities and allows Automodality-equipped DJI Matrice 210s to autonomously fly where no one else has flown before, in GPS and radio frequency-denied environments where the most valuable and actionable data resides.”
DJI Manifold 2 is available for purchase through authorized DJI Enterprise resellers worldwide. For customers in North America, Manifold 2 is also available online through DJI’s store at store.dji.com. The CPU version is $1,379 and the GPU version is $1,099. Manifold 2 is compatible with the following DJI products: Matrice 210 Series, Matrice 600 Series, N3 Flight Controller, and A3 Flight Controller. For more information on all the new features and capabilities of Manifold 2, please visit www.dji.com/manifold-2.
DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilization. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more accessible, reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries for applications in filmmaking, construction, inspection, emergency response, agriculture, conservation and other industries.
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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