Announced recently, the Snapdragon Flight from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., is a highly optimized 58x40mm board targeted specifically for consumer drones and robotics applications, able to do everything from 4K video to photography.
Presented as a reference platform with high-end performance capabilities to advance consumer drones, the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, along with robust connectivity, advanced drone software and development tools, bringing cutting-edge mobile technologies to create a new class of consumer drones.
The Snapdragon 801 processor powers some of the world’s most popular smartphones and includes a 2.26GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait CPU, Qualcomm Adreno 330 GPU, Hexagon DSP, dedicated video encode engine and dual image signal processors (ISP). Together, these form a heterogeneous computing platform to support the development of advanced drone features such as obstacle avoidance and video stabilization.
“Today, drones are made from multiple component vendors providing separate solutions for photography, navigation and communications, adding to the cost and bulk of consumer drones,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight brings together the technologies that have defined the mobile industry onto a single board, enabling OEMs to build drones that are lighter, smaller, easy to use and affordable with long battery life and superior functionalities.”
Qualcomm Technologies also announced that Yuneec, a leading developer of consumer and professional drones with a long history of innovation in electric aviation, will be one of the first companies to embrace the Snapdragon Flight. Yuneec plans to release a drone based on the platform in 2016.
The Snapdragon Flight features advanced processing power, real-time flight control on the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP, built-in Qualcomm 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a leading global navigation satellite system (GNSS) optimized to support highly accurate location positioning. The Snapdragon Flight is designed to enable the advanced features that drone consumers want most, including:
- 4K Video – 4K high resolution camera support, image enhancement and video processing capabilities and simultaneous 720p encoding for first person view
- Advanced Communication and Navigation – Dual-band 2×2 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 5 Hz GNSS location capabilities with advanced real-time flight control on Hexagon DSP
- Robust Camera and Sensor Support – 4K stereo VGA, optic flow cameras, inertial measurement unit (IMU), barometer sensor support and ports for additional sensors
- Qualcomm Quick Charge Technology – Supporting fast battery charging in between video/picture sessions
“Drones are enabling a broad range of applications such as aerial photography, the ultimate selfie accessory and sports filming, so the ability to shoot in 4K is a must-have feature,” continued Raj Talluri. “Qualcomm Technologies is already a leader in bringing 4K video capture to consumers having over 500 device designs powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors with 4K UltraHD video capability, allied with the highly integrated SoC, so it’s natural for us to support the same technologies in the consumer drone space.”
The Snapdragon Flight is not the first drone from Qualcomm. At CES 2015, Qualcomm Research introduced the Snapdragon Cargo—a flying and rolling robot with an integrated flight controller—powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. That model allowed Qualcomm to explore the potential of their system to provide a low-power solution that integrates multi-core processing, wireless communications, sensor integration, positioning and real-time I/O for multiple robotics applications.
Snapdragon Flight is available today for select OEMs, and is expected to be available in commercially available drones in 2016.