Microsoft has partnered a number of times with leading China-based drone company DJI, announcing most recently that they will release a new SDK that will bring full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities to hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs.
DJI is however currently under threat from competitor Autel Robotics who is accusing DJI of infringing its patents on following a flight path while avoiding obstacles, rotor assembly, and a way to switch out battery packs to minimize lag time between flights.
Autel has petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of models of DJI’s Phantom, Mavic, Spark and Inspire drones made in China by DJI.
Now Microsoft has added its support to DJI by selling the company a portfolio of 30 patents which patent site IAM-Media believes will bolster its defence against Autel.
Drones are expected to become a massive business, with the market believed to already be worth $4.4 billion in 2018, dominated by DJI. Microsoft is working with DJI to provide the cloud-based back-end for the flying computers, with DJI selecting Azure as its preferred cloud provider for their commercial drone and SaaS solutions.
DJI and Microsoft are also planning to co-develop solutions leveraging Azure IOT Edge and Microsoft’s AI services to enable new scenarios across various industries including Agriculture, Construction, Public Safety and more.