Sensor systems manufacturer FLIR Systems has entered a strategic collaboration with drone maker DJI, to jointly develop thermal imaging or infrared cameras for the latter’s drones.

Under the deal, the partnership will develop Zenmuse XT, an aerial thermal-imaging camera, which will be incorporated in DJI’s Inspire 1 and Matrice aerial applications.

Zenmuse XT is expected to be launched in the first quarter of next year.

The DJI Zenmuse XT cameras will be manufactured using DJI’s Zenmuse stabilised micro-gimbal technology and FLIR’s Tau 2 thermal imaging camera core technology.

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By including infrared cameras in its aerial applications including drones, DJI expects to expand the application of aerial systems by offering sensory data required in fire-fighting, agriculture, inspection, search and rescue, wildlife protection and other industrial operations.

DJI founder Frank Wang said: "Almost every week we see new applications of our aerial technology.

"Adding thermal imaging as an additional sensor option for aerial platforms will open up new and innovative uses for our users."

"Adding thermal imaging as an additional sensor option for aerial platforms will open up new and innovative uses for our users, whether it is gaining strategic insight into how their crops are growing or more efficiently understanding the spread of fires."

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With the new thermal imaging technology, Zenmuse XT users will be able to see in the dark, measure temperature remotely, as well as see through obscurants such as smoke, dust and light fog.

Zenmuse XT will include features to detect minute temperature variance, which is usually not visible to the naked eye. It can identify potential threats in buildings, detect people or animals’ presence, as well as remotely monitor mechanical and electrical equipment.

During flight, drone operators will also have real-time control and recording using DJI’s Lightbridge live video downlink system and DJI GO app.

FLIR president Andy Teich said: "FLIR and DJI today support many of the same commercial applications.

"FLIR is thrilled to work with DJI to deliver these customers a plug-and-play thermal imaging solution for DJI’s established ecosystem of unmanned aircraft and related apps, while expanding our collective opportunities in the rapidly growing commercial drone market."

Image: DJI drones will use thermal imaging cameras developed by FLIR. Photo: courtesy of DJI.