Chinese fire up world's 'most powerful' drone brain

Quad-core ARM Cortex A-15 and handy headphone socket

The Manifold mounted atop the Matrice quadcopter
The Manifold mounted atop the Matrice 100 quadcopter

Chinese UAV outfit DJI is trumpeting the release of what it describes as the "most powerful computer designed for drones" – the "Manifold" embedded computer packing a quad-core ARM Cortex A-15 processor.

The Manifold

With NVIDIA's Tegra K1 and you've got the power to "transform aerial platforms into truly intelligent flying robots that can perform complex computing tasks and advanced image processing literally on the fly".

The Manifold's multiplicity of connectionsThe Manifold is 11cm x 11cm x 2.6cm, weighing in at under 200g. Its USB, Ethernet, Mini-PCIe, HDMI, UART, SPI and I2C ports offer the usual connectability, with the possibility of hooking up third party sensors. Handily, it also has a combo audio jack, for those with really long mic/headphone cables.

The flying computer runs Canonical's Ubuntu 14.04 which, with DJI's Onboard SDK, promises a "user-friendly system enabling developers to create more powerful professional applications for use with aerial technology". For those wishing to get straight in the air, it's designed as an easy fit on the Matrice 100 developer quadcopter.

Michael Perry, DJI's Director of Strategic Partnerships, enthused: "With the Manifold, we are entering a new era of smarter, faster and more powerful aerial platforms. Manifold opens up for aerial and ground technology to intelligently work together to solve complex problems. We are excited to see what applications our developer community will come up with for this new platform."

The Manifold hit DJI's virtual shelves today at $499. ®


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