May
07
2018
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Microsoft and DJI team up to bring smarter drones to the enterprise

At the Microsoft Build developer conference today, Microsoft and Chinese drone manufacturer DJI announced a new partnership that aims to bring more of Microsoft’s machine learning smarts to commercial drones. Given Microsoft’s current focus on bringing intelligence to the edge, this is almost a logical partnership, given that drones are essentially semi-autonomous edge computing devices.

DJI also today announced that Azure is now its preferred cloud computing partner and that it will use the platform to analyze video data, for example. The two companies also plan to offer new commercial drone solutions using Azure IoT Edge and related AI technologies for verticals like agriculture, construction and public safety. Indeed, the companies are already working together on Microsoft’s FarmBeats solution, an AI and IoT platform for farmers.

As part of this partnership, DJI is launching a software development kit (SDK) for Windows that will allow Windows developers to build native apps to control DJI drones. Using the SDK, developers can also integrate third-party tools for managing payloads or accessing sensors and robotics components on their drones. DJI already offers a Windows-based ground station.

“DJI is excited to form this unique partnership with Microsoft to bring the power of DJI aerial platforms to the Microsoft developer ecosystem,” said Roger Luo, DJI president, in today’s announcement. “Using our new SDK, Windows developers will soon be able to employ drones, AI and machine learning technologies to create intelligent flying robots that will save businesses time and money and help make drone technology a mainstay in the workplace.”

Interestingly, Microsoft also stresses that this partnership gives DJI access to its Azure IP Advantage program. “For Microsoft, the partnership is an example of the important role IP plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant technology ecosystem and builds upon existing partnerships in emerging sectors such as connected cars and personal wearables,” the company notes in today’s announcement.

May
22
2017
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Kuang-Chi invests $5 million in SkyX, a maker of drones to monitor oil and gas pipelines

 Shenzhen-based Kuang-Chi Group is investing $5 million in SkyX Systems Corp., according to the drone tech startup’s founder and CEO Didi Horn. A former fighter pilot with the Israeli Air Force, Horn started SkyX in 2015 to help public and private companies monitor energy infrastructure from on high, using increasingly powerful drones and big data analytics. Read More

May
09
2017
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Volans-i shows off its long-range delivery drones in Texas

 Whether flying food or medication to customers’ doors, drones for delivery have arrived. Businesses as far-ranging as UPS, Domino’s, Amazon and the hospital group Ticino EOC are testing drones. Still, most drones built for delivery only fly for a short time and distance. Now, a startup called Volans-i has developed long-range drones for business to business, express deliveries. Read More

Apr
18
2017
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With DroneDeploy’s Fieldscanner, pilots can create maps as they fly

 Flying drones to inspect a farm, construction site, or any other venue from overhead can generate a huge amount of data. It takes time, though, for drone users to upload and turn this high-resolution data into maps, graphs or business intelligence they can act upon. Today, a data management platform for drones called DroneDeploy, is launching a tool called Fieldscanner that makes it possible… Read More

Apr
06
2017
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SkyX drones are half-helicopter, half-plane and built to fly long distances

 A Markham, Ontario startup called SkyX Ltd. emerged from stealth today to share with TechCrunch details about its unique industrial drone designs. The company’s SkyOne drones take off and land like a helicopter, but fly more like an airplane, with a range of more than 25 miles (40 km) per charge. For drone industry nerds, this means they have both VTOL and fixed-wing elements. Read More

Mar
27
2017
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Airobotics scores authorization to fly autonomous drones in Israel

 A startup based in Petah Tikva, Israel, Airobotics, has scored the right to fly drones autonomously for business purposes in Israel. The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) was the first in the world to authorize commercial, fully unmanned drone flights in their nation’s airspace. Read More

Mar
07
2017
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John Deere partners with Kespry to bring drones and aerial data to construction and forestry

 Heavy equipment makers Deere & Co., better known as John Deere, have forged a strategic alliance with drone-tech startup Kespry, the companies announced Tuesday in Las Vegas at CONEXPO, an international trade show for the construction industry. The deal could prove a boon for sales of Kespry’s drones and data analytics software. It could help John Deere tap into a new, high-tech means… Read More

Feb
23
2017
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AirMap raises $26 million to manage air traffic as drone use surges

battle-drones Lower airspace isn’t crowded with drones quite yet. But as drones become more pervasive, a startup called AirMap is building software and systems to help drone operators fly only where it’s safe and legal to do so. The task will prove completely different from that of managing airliners as we do today, says AirMap CEO and cofounder Ben Marcus who is also serving as the co-chair for… Read More

Feb
21
2017
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Exyn unveils AI to help drones fly autonomously, even indoors or off the grid

Exyn Technologies AI software allows drones to fly without pilots where GPS and Wifi isn't available. A startup called Exyn Technologies Inc. today revealed AI software that enables drones to fly autonomously, even in dark, obstacle-filled environments or beyond the reaches of GPS. Read More

Feb
07
2017
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Energy giant AES partners with Measure to improve worker safety with drones

Measure flies drones to inspect solar panels in a field below. Major power producer AES Corp. is ramping up the use of drones with an eye toward shielding workers from industry hazards. Rather than buy all their own unmanned aerial systems, they’ve engaged D.C.-based drone services provider Measure to get access to a more extensive fleet. Measure recently raised $15 million in venture funding. According to its Vice President and Chief… Read More

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