The goal of the partnership, say the companies, is to help businesses “harness the power” of commercial drone technology and edge cloud computing. As part of the partnership, DJI is releasing a software development kit (SDK) for Windows.

Using applications written for Windows 10 PCs, DJI drones can be customized and controlled for a variety of industrial uses. The drone maker has also selected Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud computing partner, taking advantage of the platform’s AI and machine learning capabilities to help turn vast quantities of aerial imagery and video data into actionable insights.

“As computing becomes ubiquitous, the intelligent edge is emerging as the next technology frontier,” says Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft. “DJI is the leader in commercial drone technology, and Microsoft Azure is the preferred cloud for commercial businesses. Together, we are bringing unparalleled intelligent cloud and Azure IoT capabilities to devices on the edge, creating the potential to change the game for multiple industries spanning agriculture, public safety, construction and more.”

DJI’s new SDK for Windows lets developers build native Windows applications that can remotely control DJI drones, including autonomous flight and real-time data streaming. The SDK will also allow Windows developers to integrate and control third-party payloads like multispectral sensors, robotic components like custom actuators, and more.

“DJI is excited to form this unique partnership with Microsoft to bring the power of DJI aerial platforms to the Microsoft developer ecosystem,” says Roger Luo, president at DJI. “Using our new SDK, Windows developers will soon be able to employ drones, AI and machine learning technologies to create intelligent flying robots that will save businesses time and money, and help make drone technology a mainstay in the workplace.”

Microsoft and DJI are also collaborating to develop commercial drone solutions using Azure IoT Edge and AI technologies for customers in key vertical segments such as agriculture, construction, and public safety. Windows developers will be able to use DJI drones alongside Azure’s cloud and IoT toolset to build AI solutions that are trained in the cloud and deployed down to drones in the field in real time, allowing businesses to quickly take advantage of learnings at one individual site and rapidly apply them across the organization.

The two companies are already working together in precision farming with Microsoft’s FarmBeats solution, which aggregates and analyzes data from aerial and ground sensors using AI models running on Azure IoT Edge. With DJI drones, the FarmBeats solution can take advantage of advanced sensors to detect heat, light, moisture, and more to provide visual insights into crops, animals, and soil on the farm.

DJI’s SDK for Windows was available as a beta preview to attendees of the Microsoft Build 2018 conference and is expected to be broadly available in the fall.


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