When disasters like earthquakes or tsunamis strike, it can be difficult to bring supplies to remote locations via air, or even know what’s happening on the ground.
To combat this problem, Ford and DJI are partnering to hold the DJI Developer Challenge, a $100,000 prize for the best drone that launches from the back of a Ford F-150, and captures information about the situation below..
The first real-world use for the winning drone would be to gather information after natural disasters, but Ford says that in the future this idea could span agriculture, construction, forestry, and bridge inspection.
The two companies imagine a world where a F-150 would drive into a disaster-struck area, and launch a drone with a specific GPS-directed flightpath. The drone would map survivors and potential hazards, while the truck moved to a new location, with the drone following after its work was done.
The rules of the contest dictate that the drone must connect with Ford’s SYNC AppLink or Open XC, an open-source project run by Ford that allows developers to connect cars with devices like tablets (or drones).
Launching drones from cars isn't entirely new. Besides residing in the dreams of every comic book supervillain, a concept car announced last month has a very similar landing pad on the rear of the car. Then again, it also has a bookshelf and claims full autonomy, so take that with a grain of salt.
Ford and DJI’s project would directly interface with the car, a slightly different concept.