DJI made several announcements yesterday (March 28, 2018) that are targeted at bolstering the drone manufacturer's position in the commercial drone market. The company is primarily known for its consumer and prosumer drones -- in fact, many people thought that DJI was going to announce a new consumer drone yesterday. But the announcement of a new thermal imaging camera and a payload software development kit (SDK) point to the company letting startups and developers integrate custom gear on stock DJI drones.
To begin with, the company announced the Zenmuse XT2 thermal imaging camera that was developed in partnership with FLIR Systems. The Zenmuse XT2 expands on the original 2015 Zenmuse XT by adding side-by-side visual and thermal imaging sensors. The idea is that emergency services or disaster recovery personnel can capture heat signatures that would be invisible to the naked eye.
The QuickTrack mode, familiar to most DJI drone pilots, centers the camera on a selected area. HeatTrack then detects the hottest object in view, with an onboard Temp Alarm interpreting the thermal data in real time. If an object's temperature exceeds a pre-set threshold, the pilot is alerted immediately.
The SDK is going to be a big deal, as other companies can now develop payloads that are specific to the needs of their customers. Jan Gasparic, head of enterprise partnerships at DJI, calls the combination of DJI drones and the new SDK a "powerful, flexible, and standardized platform which customers from different industries can build upon."
Earlier this month, DJI signed a deal to provide 1,000 custom Matrice 100 drones equipped with Skycatch imaging technology to construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu.