Microsoft has been working with DJI for some time. Indeed, at Build 2018 in May, Microsoft announced a partnership with the civilian drone and aerial imaging company. The goal of the collaboration is to include Microsoft’s AI and machine learning technology into DJI drones.

Today, Microsoft was at DJI’s AirWorks conference and announced the public preview of the Windows SDK for drones.

The Windows SDK will allow developers to create applications for Windows 10 PCs that control DJI drones. Indeed, the Windows developer community can integrate and control third-party solutions like robotic components and customer actuators.

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In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft highlights three ways to leverage Azure AI to function in drone cameras:

  • 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.

Security was important for Microsoft as it was developing the Windows SDK for DJI. Azure IoT Edge’s security manager subsystem provides protection for cloud to edge devices. Additionally, the Azure certified for IoT program ensures third-party hardware that meets Microsoft own criteria is certified.

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The company also provides some examples of creative applications being implemented on DJI drones:

  • SlantRange: Is an aerial remote sensing and data analytics company servicing the information needs of the agriculture industry, with over two decades of experience in earth science, defense, and intelligence applications. The company has patented foundational technologies for aerial crop inspections and introduced innovative analytical methods that deliver valuable agronomic data within minutes of collection, anywhere in the world, using low-power edge computing devices. These technologies have propelled SlantRange’s growth from a few Nebraska corn and soybean farms just a few seasons ago to over 40 countries and a wide variety of crops today, including contracts with many of the world’s leading agricultural suppliers and producers.
  • Clobotics: Is a global AI company helping wind energy companies to improve its productivity by automatically inspecting, processing, and reporting wind turbine blade defects. The company has inspected over 1,000 wind turbines in the past few months around the world. Clobotics’ end-to-end solutions combine computer vision, machine learning, and data analytics software with commercial drones and sensors to help the wind energy industry automate its inspection service. Clobotics’ Wind Turbine Data Platform, along with its computer vision-based edge computing service, provides a first-of-its-kind wind turbine blade life-cycle management service. As a Microsoft WW Azure partner, Clobotics works closely with Microsoft Azure and the IoT platform to provide the most innovative and reliable services to its enterprise customers.
  • eSmart systems: Brings more than 20 years of global intelligence to provide software solutions to the energy industry, service providers, and smart cities. By bringing AI to the edge on Azure IoT Edge, eSmart Systems are revolutionizing grid inspections. Their Connected Drone solution has the capability to analyze 200,000 images in less than one hour, this is more than a human expert can do in a year. The result is reduced operational cost, better insights into the current status of the grid, and fewer outages.
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