Why has this company put a Linux computer on a drone?

Today Chinese manufacturer DJI announced an onboard computer called Manifold, intended for one of the many drones offered by the company. Called Manifold, the computer is installed with a quad core processor and runs Ubuntu Linux, according to Digital Trends.

The computer has been specially designed with a 2.2 GHz processor that allows it to modify its power consumption while in use. It is also equipped with an Nvida Tegra quad-core processor, with an additional battery-saver core that handles all of the computation when the other cores are not required.

Typically, drones only contain the minimal amount of computing it requires to communicate with a smartphone. Given the extra processing power of the Manifold, its potential applications are more advanced than the typical drones.

DJI has said that the souped-up technology in the drone allows it to offer advanced image processing, even while airborne. The company has also stated that the Manifold has potential artificial intelligence applications.

While the system can be used with the many drones offered by DJI, it was designed for the Matrice 100 drone, released by the company earlier this year for $3299. The Matrice 100 is noted for its advanced Guidance system, which gives the drone to utilize its internal cameras and five ultrasonic rangefinders to autonomously maneuver around obstacles. The Guidance system retails for $999.

The Manifold’s use of Ubuntu Linux allows it to support OpenGL and DirectX. It also regularly comes with USB, HDMI, Ethernet, Mini-PCIe, UART, SPI, and 12C ports.

Orders for the Manifold drone are now being offered on the DJI website, priced at $499.

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