Ford Issues Drone-to-Vehicle Challenge at CES

A Girls Guide To Cars | Ford Issues Drone-To-Vehicle Challenge At Ces - Ford Drone Challenge

Plenty of kids and adults opened up shiny new drones over the holidays. Plenty of those drones are now stuck in trees and lost in fields. They’re seen as toys, but Ford has a different vision. They want to use drones and Ford trucks to help during emergencies.

Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes create difficult situations for rescuers. It can be impossible to tell exactly what help is needed where, but a drone’s view could solve that problem.

Ford issued a challenge at CES to encourage developers to come up with drone-to-vehicle software that could prove lifesaving during emergencies. They have partnered with drone manufacturer DJI to develop the technology and want other people to join the effort. There’s a $100,00 prize on the line to move things along.

The goal of the DJI Developer Challenge is to come up with a surveying system for the United Nations Development Program. The system would allow visual inspection of areas that are otherwise inaccessible. The drone would be carried in the bed of a Ford F-150 as far as the vehicle could manage. Once deployed, it would then send information directly back to the truck’s Ford SYNC AppLink or OpenXC and then to the cloud.

The driver’s smartphone would also come into play, establishing the link between the drone, truck, and cloud to share the data with rescuers in different locations. That link would also allow for control of the drone, even sending it in a new direction while the truck follows on the road.

Although it’s seen as something to use during disasters, there are multiple applications for this sort of technology. The software could help drones get information about any area that’s difficult to access. This would help with construction, forestry, and search and rescue missions in remote areas.

It will have you looking at that kid across the street and his pesky toy in a whole new light.

Nicole Wakelin contributes to The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, and Boldride, and she hosts her own blog,, where... More about Nicole Wakelin