DJI Releases Self-Guided Drone

SHENZHEN, GUONGDONG PROVINCE, CHINA—Drone maker DJI has rolled out a new unmanned aerial vehicle that can see where it’s going. The new Matrice 100 quadcopter, created with developers in mind, has an onboard guidance system with “integrated visual cameras, ultrasonic sensors and the most advanced computer vision algorithms in the world,” according to DJI.

The system “tracks the area around the Matrice 100 from all sides—down, front, rear, right and left,” said Navjot Singh of DJI. “This means that the Matrice 100 is always aware of its surroundings; will automatically adjust its flight path when closing in on objects or obstructions.”

The guidance system “continuously scans the nearby environment and detects obstacles in real time. When used with a DJI flight controller, it can tell your flight system to automatically avoid collision, even at high speeds,” DJI’s website (opens in new tab) states. The site says the system provides “hovering that is accurate to within centimeters,” even without GPS, and at high speeds. The guidance system is effective to altitudes up to 65 feet.

The Matrice is equipped with infrared Lepton cameras from FLIR Systems of Wilsonville, Ore., that sense temperature differences of less than one-tenth of a degree, according to Jeff Frank, senior vice president at FLIR.

“We’re not pilots, and being able to easily fly them and not have to think about the flying aspect of it, but really think about the camera operation, that’s what’s important to us as an integrator,” Frank said.

The Matrice is also DJI’s first platform build specifically to leverage its software development kits, rolled out (opens in new tab) in April for its Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 drones.

“With the SDK, anyone from any industry can develop their own flight platform,” Singh said.

The Matrice 100 features expansion bays for adding components and devices, and has a flight time of up to 40 minutes, depending on payload, and an operating distance of up to two miles, according to Singh.

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