Ford and leading drone manufacturer DJI have teamed up on a project to develop drone-to-vehicle software for quickly launching a drone out of the bed of an F-150 truck. The technology would first be used by the United Nations Development Program to survey disaster areas that are not accessible to off-road vehicles.
Emergency responders could launch a quadcopter as soon as they reach a natural disaster site, and the drone could survey the damage of a fire, earthquake, or other calamity. Useful information such as videos of the landscape and photos of survivors would be taken by the drone. Ford wants a system that creates a link between the truck, the drone, and the user's smartphone to allow first responders to launch the drone and then drive to a new location, confident that the drone will catch up and dock with the truck.
Once the technology is proven at natural disaster sites, land surveyors and construction workers will likely be interested in the advantages of a drone-to-vehicle system. Drones have a limited range, so being able to drive to a location and easily launch a drone right from the truck could significantly improve the efficiency of surveying operations. And if the drone-to-vehicle communication allows the drone to follow the truck as it drives, surveying as it goes, it would be a huge improvement over current .
Ford and DJI are looking for a third party to develop their system. They have announced a $100,000 to the team that can create a real-time link between a DJI drone, Ford F-150, and smartphone using the or .
One day, you might be able to pick up a shiny new F-150 with a linked DJI drone in the bed, straight off the lot.