Not merely content with conquering the consumer market and the media industry with drones armed with super high-resolution cameras, DJI has now launched a computer that is designed to give drones a more intelligent brain. This will enable software developers to create new uses for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology that have never been seen before.
The DJI Manifold is a small thin square box on it that contains a working CPU as powerful as your average desktop computer. The CPU runs on Canonical's open source Linux operating system Ubuntu 14.04 and comes with a Quad-core ARM Cortex A-15 Processor and a super-fast NVIDIA Kepler-based GPU, which the company claims will provide powerful image processing.
Just like a regular small desktop computer, it comes with USB, Ethernet and HMI ports, as well as other ports enabling developers to connect a wide range of third-party sensors, monitors and interfaces with it, such as infrared cameras, geographical surveying equipment and scientific monitoring instruments.
Essentially, the Manifold is designed to help software developers put any kind of gadget or solution they can think of in the air, if they can create an app that works with DJI's Onboard SDK that comes with the drone.
So what could Manifold be used for? Hovering security cameras? Smart autonomous flying weapons (as feared by the US military)? Super-smart scientific monitoring devices to take away risk of harm to humans? Who knows – it's all in the hands of the inventors and big businesses now.
"With the Manifold, we are entering a new era of smarter, faster and more powerful aerial platforms. Manifold opens up for aerial and ground technology to intelligently work together to solve complex problems," said Michael Perry, DJI's Director of Strategic Partnerships. "We are excited to see what applications our developer community will come up with for this new platform."
The Manifold is now on sale for £409 ($633) on the DJI Online Store and will begin shipping from 15 November.