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Top Gear Philippines

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It may look like a remote-controlled toy, yet in reality it is what is known as a drone. These unmanned vehicles are piloted using on-board computers for autonomous mobility or via remote control.

This innovative piece of tech has been used for applications like filming, surveillance and the like. But apart from these, agencies like the United Nations Development Program think that these drones can actually help save lives. This is why it has tapped Ford and professional drone maker DJI to come up with the drone-to-vehicle software challenge.

Using drones and vehicles as hardware, and Ford SYNC as software, developers are invited to dream up solutions on how these can be utilized in emergency situations. The aim is to use drones, for instance, to reach places that are otherwise inaccessible by even the most hardcore all-terrain vehicles--such as a war zone.

One concrete application is in the event of (heaven forbid) a devastating earthquake or tsunami. The drone can be deployed to survey the damage and casualties, complete with real-time images that rescuers can use. This will help locate victims faster and a lot more efficiently.

To show how it can be done, Ford even demonstrated the tech using an F-150 as a drone base station. Thanks to Ford SYNC 3, the driver can see the surrounding area via GPS navigation and other data. He can then launch the drone to a certain destination. No worries about the drone getting lost, as his smartphone and the vehicle’s SYNC software can be tapped by the drone as a homing beacon. This will enable it to fly back safely once the mission has been accomplished.

The DJI challenge is part of Ford’s Smart Mobility solutions initiative. This is the Blue Oval’s goal of connecting cars, people and the environment into one giant network to make life easier and safer for all. While it sounds like a whole lot of press talk, the concept actually has a lot of promise. If it can be utilized properly, it may just be what we need to save more lives should any calamities strike. And in our country where floods are a dime a dozen during the rainy season, this may just be one of the things our government needs.

Think you have what it takes to design a cool rescue drone or some innovative software solution? You can check out developer.dji.com/challenge2016 for more details.

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Gerard Jude Castillo
Writer
Gerard has been a car nut ever since he discovered what a car was. As a kid, he'd play with toy cars, with sound effects to boot. He has been writing about his passion for over a decade now.
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