Qualcomm wants to unify the world of 4K drone technology with Snapdragon Flight

by on September 15, 2015

Stephan Jukic – September 15, 2015

Qualcomm, a major name in the drive for developing processing chips capable of handling 4K UHD video, has announced the development of a new integrated platform technology for advanced consumer drones. The technology allows designers and developers to create a range of new video support products for 4K video recording in aerial drones, with stabilization, GPS navigation and other vital goodies like obstacle avoidance and real-time flight control systems.

The new Qualcomm technology is called Snapdragon Flight and takes the form of a single development board which measures 58 by 40 mm and is powered off a highly efficient Snapdragon 801 System on a Chip processor.

Qualcomm’s intent is to provide this new piece of hardware for the high-end drone market, which includes drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 or the Yuneec Typhoon Q500, though whether new generations of 4K-capable drones from these specific manufacturers will feature the Snapdragon Flight is still up in the air.

Camera capabilities in the new technology include the capacity to shoot 4K and 720p HD simultaneously while also being capable of video encoding and video stabilization along with image enhancement, inertial measurement and optic flow for the sake of precise navigation and avoidance of obstacles. Furthermore, the new technology offers support for technologies like a barometric reader.

As far as specs go, the Snapdragon 801 SoC chip itself comes with a quad-core 2.26GHz CPU, integrated Adreno 330 graphics card processing a Qualcomm Hexagon DSP and also includes its own dedicated, integrated image and video processing hardware. There is also full Dual-band WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 functionality and GPS navigation for accurate remote control manipulation and real-time positioning and navigation.

Qualcomm has also thrown in its own Quick Charge technology for turbocharged battery charging in between flights, which in turn means superior and longer running field deployments and turn-around times.

A prototype drone with Snapdragon Flight integration

A prototype drone with Snapdragon Flight integration

Most importantly of all, the new Snapdragon technology, if applied to a range of drones from third party manufacturers, will allow these makers to reduce the size and weight of their machines’ electronics and thus also make the drones themselves leaner and lighter, resulting in longer flight times. This is not to mention the potential cost savings in terms of construction and ultimately consumer pricing.

According to Qualcomm senior VP of product management, Raj Talluri, speaking at a press conference, “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…. The 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.”

As to how widely this new technology from Qualcomm is applied and how much it affects the development of more advanced 4K drones, we’ll have to wait and see how consumer market results pan out.

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