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DJI teams up with Ford and the United Nations to save lives with drones


In other news, popular drone manufacturer DJI are collaborating with Ford and the United Nations on a noble quest to improve rescue operations with drones. How? With their annual development challenge of course!

This year, the participating parties are offering a USD100,000 (RM434,000) grand prize to the team that can build the best application for launching a drone from a moving vehicle as part of a search-and-rescue mission.

Although we’ve seen drones being launched for rescue missions in the past, none of them have been launched from a car in motion. This is an issue because the conditions of a disaster are never the same, often needing the rescue team to stay on the move to avoid getting caught up in it themselves. So, the participants are tasked with launching and landing a drone from the bed of a Ford F-150 pickup truck.


Here’s the full timeline of the DJI SDK Developer Challenge:

March 19th – Developer package sent to 25 teams
May 10th – Only 15 teams make the cut, receiving Matrice 100 (a fully programmable modular aerial drone) and Zenmuse X3 (DJI’s latest camera) to complete their systems
July 17th – 10 remaining finalists start developing their autonomous landing and object recognition software
August 27-28th – Grand finals

In certain parts of the world, drones bring about more fear than anything else, though it’s amazing to see that there are (obvious) pros in utilising them for aid drop-offs and search-and-rescue missions; lessening the risk of rescuers by putting drones out there instead. And let’s not forget the use of these drones by photojournalist worldwide, capturing civil unrest in states observing media lockdowns.

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Besides holding competitions to save the world, DJI has also updated their existing Phantom and Inspire drone series. While DJI’s uber cool Inspire 1 gets a minor colour update (it now comes in black), they’ve added a 4K camera to the Phantom 3, a feature only available on the Phantom 3 Professional in the past.