The public preview of the Windows software developer’s kit (SDK) to help developers make Windows 10 applications that can control DJI drones was unveiled by Microsoft and DJI at DJI’s AirWorks conference.
During Build 2018 developer conference early this year, Microsoft and DJI had announced the upcoming release a new SDK with full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities to hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs. This will allow developers to integrate and control third-party payloads like multispectral sensors, robotic components like custom actuators, and more. With this SDK, developers can use the following methods to enable Azure AI services to interact with drone imagery and video in real-time:
- Drone imagery can be sent directly to Azure for processing by an AI workload.
- Drone imagery can be processed on Windows running Azure IoT Edge with an AI workload.
- Drone imagery can be processed directly onboard drones running Azure IoT Edge with an AI workload.
Microsoft also announced that AirMap has selected Azure as its exclusive cloud partner for its drone traffic management platform and developer ecosystem. Microsoft added that AirMap, will helps users stay in compliance with local law and avoid collision with other drones.
AirMap is currently being used for Skyguide, a nationwide airspace management system in Switzerland. The first beyond-line-of-sight operations began earlier this year with drone manufacturer Matternet, who’s working with Swiss Post and a hospital to deliver laboratory samples.
In his a blog post Azure IoT director Sam George stated that the purpose of the Windows SDK and AirMap deal is to give enterprise customers more ways to quickly deploy AI-powered drones for security or maintenance inspections and other tasks that can be automated with computer vision. This would help businesses predict when a piece of machinery needs repairs or collect information that helps ensure employee safety. AI workloads produced from data gathered by cameras or sensors on DJI drones can be processed via Azure in the cloud, Azure IoT Edge on the device, or on a Windows 10 PC.
Drone control with Windows 10 follows the introduction of ROS1, the Robot Operating System, for the operating system. In April, Microsoft committed to spending $5 billion on internet of things initiatives, likely due to its potential to drive AI and cloud computing services.