Well, that’s it for another year, with the curtain coming down on DJI’s third annual AirWorks Conference.
The biggest event of its kind, the 2018 showcase was staged at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas, from October 30, to November 1, attracting hundreds of guests and an array of specially-selected key-note speakers.
The theme of this year’s conference was Empowering the Ecosystem, and DJI certainly flexed its muscles, unveiling new products and software and highlighting its commitment to innovation, especially within the enterprise sector. There were also fascinating case studies about how drones are changing the world in which we live and, in some cases, making a difference between life and death.
Heliguy Insider has compiled a list of 10 things we learnt at the 2018 AirWorks Conference.
1) Mavic 2 Enterprise
There has been much excitement about the release of the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, and it’s easy to see why. This small and compact drone, which is a modified version of the popular Mavic 2, focuses very much on enterprise, with a particular emphasis on the way it can transform the day-to-day operations of emergency service and rescue personnel.
A range of accessories - speaker, beacon and spotlight - can be fitted onto this smart-looking model, which will greatly assist in a variety of critical missions. The Mavic 2 Enterprise features a refined imaging system (including a 2x optical zoom camera), an extended flight time of up to 31 minutes and a self-heating battery which works in temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C). The Mavic 2 Enterprise Universal Edition (featuring the Mavic 2 Enterprise Spotlight/Speaker/Beacon accessories) is available at heliguy.com for £2,069
2) DJI Flight Simulator
The DJI Flight Simulator
is a ground-breaking pilot-training solution, providing an accessible, intuitive and realistic learning experience. According to DJI, the Flight Simulator sets a new standard for drone-pilot training, paving a new path for the next generation of drone pilots.
Developed with enterprise in mind, this useful training tool creates the most realistic simulated flight experience, allowing pilots to hone their skills without the risks and costs associated with real-life training. This state-of-the-art training simulator has multiple flight modes, training modules and point of views, as well as a comprehensive physics engine.
3) DJI Pilot
One of the big pieces of news at the AirWorks Conference was that DJI’s software solution, DJI Pilot, is now officially out of beta. This was greeted warmly by the audience. It is available for Android and Apple’s iOS. New features include a mission-planning feature for mapping or inspection work.
The software will be rolled out over DJI's entire product portfolio, including the Zenmuse XT2, payload SDKs and the Mavic 2 Enterprise. It is also fully-integrated with FlightHub. DJI has also increased data security by adding password protection.
4) DJI Ground Station Pro Enterprise
The DJI GS Pro is an iPad app designed to control or plan automatic flights for DJI aircraft. Now, DJI has announced the new DJI GS Pro Enterprise. With the new features, you can conduct automated flight missions, manage flight data on the cloud and collaborate across projects to efficiently run your drone programme.
5) SDK and the power of five
DJI admitted that it was surprised by the strong growth in SDK activations, but the company has embraced this by developing five different types of SDK. Currently, DJI offers Mobile SDK; UX SDK; Onboard SDK; Payload SDK; and Windows SDK.
The huge rise in demand for SDKs was demonstrated by the activation numbers for Mobile SDK, which have climbed from 150,000 in 2015 to 4.7million in 2018.
The Microsoft DJI Windows SDK brings real-time AI and machine learning capabilities to imagery from DJI drones - exponentially increasing the ways in which drones can be used and scaled for enterprise applications.
Arnaud Thiercelin, Head of US R&D for DJI, said: "Now more than ever - be it in construction, agriculture, search and rescue or other applications - more developers are making use of our SDKs to develop customized solutions to maximize the full potential of our drone platforms."
6) DJI Manifold 2
DJI Manifold 2 allows your drone to process data on board the aircraft. The Manifold 2 houses impressive processing power, similar to what is found in self-driving cars.
7) DJI Terra
DJI Terra is a 2D and 3D mapping solution to help users and developers digitise the world. It will be available in early 2019 and pricing will be made public at a later stage.
8) The Mavic Enterprise inspects American Airlines plane
DJI and American Airlines presented a demonstration to showcase how drones can be used to carry out aircraft inspections.
Using the new DJI Mavic Enterprise, the drone was flown around an American Airlines plane to highlight how UAVs can make the inspection easier and save huge amounts of time and money.
For the sake of the demonstration, the Mavic Enterprise located a small sticker acting as a fault on the plane. The drone then zoomed in and around the supposed fault to showcase how it would work in a real-life setting, outlining how the drone could capture up-close imaging of the problem and transfer that data back for a team to analyse on the ground.
9) Drones are changing the world and helping to save lives
Drones have helped to rescue at least 196 people around the world. This incredible statistic was announced during AirWorks 2018. And after listening to various key-note speakers, it is clear that UAVs are playing a crucial role within the emergency services and other sectors.
Chief McNeal, of Twain Harte Fire Station, spoke about how he integrates UAVs into his fire and disaster response and training in order to keep First Responders safer and more knowledgeable in dangerous burn areas. He explained how drone technology is the next leap forward for firefighting.
Officer Barry Moore, pictured below, showed how a drone spotted a potential ambush of police officers and allowed Mansfield Police to resolve the situation quickly, without any violent conflict.
Meanwhile, Fire Marshal Jon Johnston showed the audience aerial visuals of destruction from two major Californian wildfires. He explained how drones reduced the risk and helped guide firefighters and response.
There was also a detailed breakdown of how drones played a key role in guiding the emergency response and damage assessment in the wake of this year’s Hurricane Florence, while there was discussion about how drone technology is transforming data collection in mining.
10) DJI on a mission and compares drone industry to the 'beginnings of the PC market’
Speaking at the conference, Jan Gasparic (pictured below), DJI’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, said that the AirWorks mission was to ‘build a global ecosystem for aerial productivity’.
He added: “First, continue to build the most reliable and versatile aerial platforms out there in the market. And we see our technology as providing the foundation for you to build unique solutions and services on top of our platforms and ultimately solve people’s problems in the enterprise arena. Second, we will continue to invest in our developer technologies that allow anyone to very quickly build up new solutions and really leverage the incredible power that drones can provide.”
Mr Gasparic likened the current state of the drone industry to where the PC market was at the beginning of its development. He said: “The drone industry is in the same place now the personal computer industry was 30 or 40 years ago.”
This statement indicates that DJI is preparing for the future and is planning for the continued expansion of the drone industry.
Mario Rebello, DJI’s Vice President and Country Manager of North America, also spoke at the conference. He stressed DJI’s commitment to innovation and said that the company has a ‘deep passion to build an entire ecosystem to nurture new applications of drone technology’.