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DJI wants you to build sentient drones with its tiny computer

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DJI has created a computer called Manifold that extends the capabilities of its Matrice test drone. It's a platform for developers to build on, which DJI says can turn drones into "truly intelligent flying robots that can perform complex computing tasks and advanced image processing." Think of it as something like an overpowered Arduino built specifically for drones. As well as customized ports for interfacing with the Matrice, the Manifold has USB, Ethernet, Mini-PCIe, HDMI, UART, SPI and I2C ports, which allow for all manner of sensors and add-ons to be connected. It's powered by an Nvidia K1 processor with Kepler graphics, runs Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (a version of Linux with "long-term support"), and weighs less than 200g.

DJI Manifold

Because it runs Ubuntu and has a Kepler GPU, the Manifold plays nice with developer APIs and libraries, parallel processing tools, and robotics platforms, with support for CUDA, OpenCV, ROS, DirectX, and OpenGL. DJI believes this combination will allow developers to build "artificial intelligence applications" for drones. It specifically calls out computer vision (the CV in OpenCV) and deep learning. The long game? Your drone "will not only be able to sense the surrounding environment, but also identify objects and respond in an instant." Manifold goes on sale at $499 today, and will ship November 15th. Of course, if you want to make this flying computer fly, you'll need to shell out the additional $3,299 for the Matrice test drone as well.

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