Though drones are capable of some pretty incredible things, different models tends to specialize at one incredible thing in particular, be it shooting 4K video or avoiding crashing into obstacles. An Israeli company called Percepto hopes to allow drone owners to bring new functionality to their existing vehicles by way of an open-source attachable camera, controlled by an ever-growing suite of drone apps.
Just as new exciting and practical uses for drones seem to pop up every day, its likely that the future will see the technology used in ways nobody has even imagined yet. Percepto is looking to fast-track things with its Computer Vision attachment, a black box wighing 140 g (5 oz) that houses a processing unit based on NVIDIA's Tegra K1 and a camera that shoots 640 x 480 video at 120 fps.
With Percepto's mounts, Computer Vision can be affixed to DJI Phantom drones along with its Spreading Wings line, 3DRobotics' Iris+ and X8 and certain Walkera models. The thinking is that with the help of enthusiastic developers, Computer Vision can be used to expand the functionality of these drones through running any number of apps, in the same way that your smartphone can.
These apps would be downloaded from the Percepto Marketplace, which the company says could one day be home to drone apps that do everything from scan city streets to find you a parking spot to retrieving balls in a tennis game. By providing a standardized device that is compatible with a wide variety of apps, the Percepto team hopes to eliminate the need for drones to be built from the ground up to serve one particular purpose.
By extension, it hopes to break down barriers for developers sitting on golden nuggets of drone ideas, but lacking the hardware, resources or know-how to bring them to life.
To kick things off, Percepto plans to ship the device with two apps it developed itself: one that includes a follow me feature and another that is said to include flight guidance and obstacle awareness. But for that to happen, Percepto will need to hit its US$60,000 crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo, just under $40,000 of which it has raised at the time of writing. An early pledge of $359 will have one sent your way in October if everything goes to plan.
You can check out the company's pitch video below.
Update February 1, 2016: Though this campaign was funded, it is yet to deliver the product to its backers. It is however offering refunds up until March 1. More information is available here.