There’s a lot of talk about drones today, and apparently Ford wants to get in on the action. Today the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the company announced a partnership with drone maker DJI to allow the Ford F-150 to engage in drone-to-vehicle communications, effectively making the F-150 a base station for drones.
While this almost sounds crazy, this announcement is an important reminder that drones have many commercial uses. According to Ford, one of the first applications of the drone-to-vehicle communications will actually be for the United Nations Development Program. In this application they will use drones to survey emergency areas, such as an area hit with a bad earthquake.
“At Ford, we are driving innovation in every part of our business to help make people’s lives better,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. “Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference with vehicles and drones working together for a common good.”
Here is Ford’s description of how the technology would work:
Using the Ford SYNC® 3 touch screen, the driver could identify a target area and launch a drone by accessing an app projected through Ford SYNC AppLink. The drone would follow a flight path over the zone, capturing video and creating a map of survivors with associated close-up pictures of each.
Using the driver’s smartphone, the F-150 would establish a real-time link between the drone, the truck and the cloud, so vehicle data can be shared. Data will be relayed to the drone so the driver can continue to a new destination, and the drone will catch up and dock with the truck.
Even more interesting is that Ford and DJI are opening up this technology to worldwide developers. Developers can create uses for the technology that also utilize Ford SYNC AppLink or OpenXC. The winner of the developer challenge gets a $100,000 reward, too.