Snapdragon-powered drones will be smarter and more affordable


Commercial and consumer drones are exploding in popularity right now, and Qualcomm wants a piece of the action. Naturally, the company doesn’t want to sell its own drones, it wants to sell the hardware that powers the drones, which it intends to do with a modified version of its Snapdragon chipset that it unveiled earlier this year. Traditionally used to power smartphones and tablets, this chipset not only allows drones to be more affordable and efficient, it also gives them a number of advanced features that regular drones simply don’t have. The company teased some of these features and talked about the benefits of a Snapdragon-powered drone in a recent YouTube video.

Earlier this year, chipmaker Qualcomm announced it would be producing a custom version of its widely used Snapdragon chipset for drones. The company says that its Snapdragon Flight processors will bring down the cost of drones, improve their battery life, and make advanced features more widely available. This new video from Qualcomm offers a preview of Snapdragon Flight’s capabilities, showing a drone autonomously dodging obstacles and mapping out 3D spaces with built-in sensors. Qualcomm say this is just a “sneak peak” (they mean peek — there’s nothing mountainous about the video), but it will be showing off Snapdragon Flight in more detail at CES next week. “We believe that, with this chip, we can cut the price of the average 4K camera drone from $1,200 down to $300 or $400,” Qualcomm’s Raj Talluri told The Verge in October. “And we think we can extend the battery life from 20 minutes to 45 to 60 minutes. That will open them up to a much broader audience and a whole new range of applications.” Basically, look out for a bunch of smarter drones coming to the skies near you in 2016.

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