DJI partners with Ford to award $100,000 to top drone developer


DJI, Ford and the United Nations Development Program recognize how vital drones are to disaster relief. That’s why the three are partnering up to produce the 2016 DJI Developer Challenge — a call for the public to build a robust application system for search and rescue drones. The award for the most successful application? $100,000.

So what do winners need to do? Devise a way to launch a drone from the bed of an F-150 pickup truck, survey the landscape and communicate in real-time using Sync data available.

The second round will be whittled down to 15 teams, which will be provided with DJI’s flagship SDK aerial platform, the Matrice 100, as well as a Zenmuse X3 camera to mount on the Matrice.

This is the third year that DJI has hosted a developer challenge of this nature. This year the focus is on the new Mobile SDK 3.0, an open, flexible software platform. Five teams will be cut, with 10 in the final round, which will require teams to use their app to perform a mock search-and-rescue mission, taking off and landing on a moving Ford F-150 pickup truck and transmitting the data collected.

“Various industries are starting to realize how capable and powerful unmanned aerial vehicles can be,” said Robert Schlub, Vice President of Research and Development at DJI. “As usage cases arise, there will be a growing need for applications. With our developer challenge and new SDK, DJI is doing its utmost to foster an environment that’s conducive to development and creation of those applications.”

The winner of last year’s challenge was UT-Dronefly from the University of Texas at Dallas and Penn State University, whose app was designed to conduct powerline inspection in a safer and more-efficient way. In 2014, the first year of the DJI Developer Challenge, Team BetterW from the South China University of Technology developed a forensics app specifically designed for highway accident investigations.


The winner will be announced later this year.

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