China-based drone maker DJI Innovations announced Thursday that it will work together with thermal imaging company FLIR Systems to develop a stabilized drone technology that can see even in the dark.
Under the collaboration, the two companies will create their first joint product, the DJI Zenmuse XT, which features FLIR's thermal imaging technology for DJI's Matrice and Inspire 1 drones.
The Zenmuse XT is a combination of DJI's Zenmuse micro-gimbal technology and FLIR's TAU 2 thermal imaging camera core. Its development will expand the possibilities for infrastructure inspectors and commercial drone operators, said FLIR.
Thermal imaging on small drones can enhance search and rescue operations, agriculture, firefighting, the inspection of bridges, buildings, and energy infrastructure, and wildlife protection, experts said.
"FLIR and DJI today support many of the same commercial applications," said FLIR CEO and President Andy Teich. "FLIR is thrilled to work with DJI to deliver these customers a plug-and-play thermal imaging solution for DJI's established ecosystem of unmanned aircraft and related apps while expanding our collective opportunities in the rapidly-growing commercial drone market."
Zenmuse XT users will be able to see even in complete darkness because of the addition of thermal imaging. Aside from that, they will have the ability to measure temperature remotely and see through light fog, smoke and dust. They will also be able to detect variances in temperature that can indicate problems in buildings, sense the presence of animals or people, and monitor the condition of electrical and mechanical equipment.
"Through the drone, I can see things the human eye doesn't see," said Jeff Frank, FLIR senior vice president for strategy. "It's like a sixth sense."
The drone is integrated with the DJI GO app and DJI's Lightbridge live video downlink system. This feature will give drone operators remote access to record and control of the drone during flight.
DJI CEO Frank Wang said the company's team-up with FLIR shows their intent to innovate in sectors where technology can change many things.
"The result will be joint, best-in-class solutions that are intuitive and easy to use," added Wang.
Meanwhile, the Zenmuse XT will be out in the first quarter of 2016 at FLIR and DJI dealers.
Watch the video for the Zenmuse XT Thermal Camera below.