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Some significant news from DJI, which involves cars instead of drones. The company is working to provide sensors - and perhaps much more - for autonomous vehicles.
Rumors about this first started floating a few months back, when Reuters reported that the DJI company was building an engineering team to work on self-driving technologies. The Shenzhen-based company is hiring engineers for auto electronics, autonomous driving, and in-car software, job posts on its website show. Few people said DJI plans to sell driver-assist technology such as lidar sensors, a key component in self-driving cars, and packaged solutions for autonomous driving functions. All sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the details are not public yet.
In 2020, Livox, a startup with links to DJI, displayed two lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc has said it would use Livox’s lidar technology for self-driving functions. DJI’s move comes as several hardware and software tech firms are racing to tap into the auto industry’s autonomous future.
Sensors. More than anything else, autonomous vehicles are all about sensors and software. Yes, there’s regenerative braking and many other things that go into these vehicles. But first and foremost, you’ve gotta have great sensors and great software to sense the environment, interpret what that data means, then make decisions based on what those sensors are capturing and crunch all of that data to help guide the vehicle.
Image surfaces. This image has popped up online. And – if it’s legit, and we kinda think it is – it strongly suggests that DJI is embarking on a new automotive division. Does that mean building cars? No, not on anything we’ve seen or heard. But it does apparently mean supplying the eyes and brains so crucial to any autonomous vehicle:
This illustration indicates some of the many areas where DJI sensors might play a role
Given the extraordinary experience that DJI has with drones, it seems that this is the next step. Some of their drones even include the same technology used in the automotive field: object avoidance, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and radar. Moreover, all the software on which these drones run is also made by DJI.
Shanghai Motor Show. Electric car enthusiasts are aware that one of the strongest countries in terms of EV (electric vehicle) is China. The picture of the first electric vehicle with DJI sensors also comes from China, thus confirming the above rumors. DJI would not comment on its plans in the autonomous vehicle space. But we suspect there may be an official announcement from Shanghai Auto Show soon.
On the eve of the opening of the Shanghai Auto Show 2021, the front team of Yiche photographed the new Baojun KiWi EV equipped with DJI's in-vehicle intelligent driving system. DJI will provide customers with different levels of autopilot functions for the front-mounted mass production business, including hardware Scheme, software scheme and hardware + software package scheme. The specific information will be made public at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.
According to people familiar with the matter, mass-produced vehicles equipped with DJI's intelligent driving system will land as soon as this year, and DJI Vehicles is already in the process of cooperating with car companies to deliver. As of the end of 2020, DJI Automotive has obtained more than 1,000 patents in intelligent driving and related fields.