DJI Tegra K1-Powered Manifold Mini PC Enables Skynet Worthy Intelligent Drones

The rise of our robotic overlords isn't going to be sudden, even though it might feel that way when they take over full control. No, it will be the result of a long and unintentional uprising, the culmination of several technologies that led to a single turning point. One of those technologies is likely to be DJI's Manifold, a NUC-like PC built specifically for its Matrice 100 drone.

It measures just 11 x 11 x 2.6 centimeters (4.33 x 4.33 x 1.02 inches), weighs less than 200 grams (0.44 pounds), and is easily mounted to the pre-installed expansion bay that sits atop the Matrice 100. What's the purpose, you ask?

Matrice 100 with Manifold

"The Manifold can natively run the DJI Onboard SDK, access flight data and perform intelligent control and data analysis. With CUDA, the Manifold can be used to accelerate your applications to achieve unprecedented levels of performance," DJI explains.

Sitting inside the Manifold is NVIDIA's Tegra-K1 System-on-Chip (SoC) with 192 supercomputer-class GPU cores based on Kepler, four ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores, and an additional battery saver core for simple calculations as part of the K1's 4-Plus-1 design.

Manifold Ports

By harnessing the power of a PC graphics card with support for DirectX and OpenGL, the Manifold takes aerial platforms to new heights, so to speak. It can do things like "process high resolution images in real time" and "can be deployed for use in artificial intelligence applications such as computer vision and deep learning," DJI says. With Manifold running the show, the Matrice 100 can even sense the surrounding environment, identify objects, and respond appropriately.

On the software side, Manifold runs Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Canonical's taken an active role here with the goal of enabling intelligent flying robots.

The Manifold will be available on November 15, 2015, for $499 MSRP.