AirWorks Day 2 Recap

By Toby Knisely Toby Knisely
September 26, 2019

Tomorrow’s Standards

Following a packed and productive first day, AirWorks 2019 pressed on with an agenda full of speeches, presentations, workshops, and more. Here is everything that happened today at Day 2 of AirWorks 2019. 

Keynote Takeaways

Once again Mario Rebello, Vice President & Regional Manager North America, DJI took to the stage and opened part two of the Keynote, titled “Transforming the Aviation Economy Together: Today’s Tools, Tomorrow’s Standards.” 

Yesterday, we focused on Today’s Tools and we saw the impressive announcements of the P4 Multispectral, the global release of the Agras T16, and the introduction of FLIR’s MUVE C360. 

Today, we look ahead to Tomorrow’s Standards, and DJI’s vision for a collective effort from all industry stakeholders to foster an enabling environment where drone technology can realize its maximum potential for good.    

Mario, addressing the crowd, reminded everyone how we all, as an industry and as a community, have a role to play in shaping the future of the commercial drone ecosystem. 

DJI loves learning how people are continually contributing to this ecosystem by innovating impactful uses with our drones. Mario brought attention to one such example with DJI’s involvement in the Mara Elephant Project in Kenya. 

Drone Mara Elephant Project Kenya

[Click here for Elephant Drone video]

The Mara Elephant Project aims to combat the illegal poaching and slaughter of elephants for their ivory. Of all the available tools that the Mara Elephant Project deploy, one they’ve found to be particularly effective is our drones – and for good reason. With the birds-eye perspective afforded by the drone, staff can track elephants, locate and identify poachers, and avoid conflicts before they occur. They can even herd elephants away from danger, because our drones sound like a swarm of bees! Since its founding, the Mara Elephant Project has arrested 300 poachers, seized 1000 kilograms of ivory, and brought the percentage of illegally killed elephants down from 83% to 43%. 

A Discussion on Data Security Standards for Drones

Mario acknowledged that drones are just tools, and are powerless without the people who see, recognize, and leverage the potential these tools provide. DJI appreciates drone adopters, pilots, and end-users who push this industry forward.  

Therefore, DJI is redoubling our effort to empower this community and to meet the needs of our users, the ones who bring our tools to life. 

One example of where DJI has catered to the needs of our users is the release of the Government Edition.

DJI Government Edition

[Click here for more information on the Government Edition]

The Government Edition includes user-requested features like permanently enabled Local Data Mode, Firmware Update Reviews, and Restricted Hardware Pairing. 

To expand on data security, Mario invited to the stage Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Center for Technology Innovation, The Brookings Institution, and Troy Gonzalez, Chief Engineer, Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton. 

Together they discussed drone and enterprise security standards, outlining DJI’s vision for the guidelines, standards, and requirements that players in our drone ecosystem should adhere to, demand, and protect. 

Mario Rebello Data Security DiscussionMario Rebello [far right] discussing data security

New Tools to Empower the Ecosystem

After this panel discussion on the rigorous industry privacy standards proposed by DJI, Jan Gasparic, Director of Business Development, proceeded to reiterate DJI’s commitment to help the entire drone industry grow. DJI welcomes a healthy industry environment that can spur on collaboration and innovation. 

DJI Developer Technologies Updates

Since its release in 2015 we’ve seen over 6.2 million Mobile SDK activations. 

With the DJI Payload SDK, we have over 60 thousand registered developers working on DJI SDKs. We have 110 payloads in development on the Payload SDK, 22 of which are already in mass production.  

These figures show the number of 3rd party apps that have been developed on MSDK & OSDK, and reflect the number of third-party solutions that have been built, installed, and integrated with our products. 


Announcing DJI X-Port 

Gimbals are inherently difficult to create, design, and test. With the release of the X-Port, DJI is providing tools to allow drone hardware producers to quickly bypass the costly and difficult stages of payload development. This universal gimbal can quickly be integrated with custom 3rd party data sensors, like multispectral cameras or LiDAR sensors. The X-Port also features a gimbal debugging interface and built-in communication APIs to help streamline the development cycle. 

DJI X-Port


Updating to SkyPort 2.0

SkyPort secures and integrates payloads onto DJI drones, and facilitates communication between the two systems. This update to version 2.0 enables X-Port compatibility, as well as UX SDK Open Source, MSDK LDM Mode, FW upgrade support, and OSDK 3.9. The updated hardware with SkyPort 2.0 also enables faster data transmission speeds for payloads.

DJI X-Port

The DJI and Microsoft Partnership

Microsoft’s Global Head of Device Incubation, Dinesh Narayanan took to the stage and introduced the latest news in the DJI and Microsoft partnership.   

1. Native integration of DJI’s drones as data sensors in Microsoft’s FarmBeats. This cooperation will allow advances in autonomous farming processes. 

2. Deployment of DJI FlightHub on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform. As of today, compatibility between these existing IT infrastructures allows for users to run DJI FlightHub on Microsoft’s secure Azure server. 

Drones and Oil & Gas

Suzanne Lemieux, Manager Midstream & Industry Operations, API, and Greg Aldrich, UAS Process Leader, Marathon Petroleum, each took to the stage and spoke about the impact of drones on the 160-year-old Oil & Gas industry. In a hazardous environment, drones are critical tools to help enable a culture of safety. Drones enhance operations and safety by improving response time for disasters, reducing hazardous man hours, minimizing downtime during inspection, and streamlining data collection. 

Panel on Shaping Drone Policy for Safety

Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, moderated a discussion on how policy can be advanced to promote the safety of all participants that share the world’s airspace. Panelists included Jeff Mort, Airport Manager and Special Advisor to the CEO on UAS, LAX, Christian Ramsey, President of uAvionix, Jon Hegranes, Founder & CEO, Kittyhawk, and Greg Deeds, Founder & CEO, Technology Exploration Group. 

DJI AirWorks Brendan Schulman Policy PanelBrendan Schulman moderating the Policy Panel

Exhibition Hall 

Following the Keynote this morning, attendees once again split into more focused groups and took on a busy schedule full of breakout sessions, presentations, workshops, and training sessions. All the while, they filtered in and out of the open floor of the Exhibition Hall. The Expo Hall was populated with an array of booths maintained by our many friends and sponsors, including FLIR, DroneDeploy, DroneBase, and more. Additionally, space was held by promising startups like Zing Drones LLL and SkyOpz, and the NGO Women And Drones.

This was a great opportunity for our partners and sponsors to showcased their drone solutions, products, and services, while connecting with likeminded drone experts who could truly appreciate what was on display. 

DJI AirWorks Expo Hall

Day 2 here at AirWorks has been just as busy as Day 1, complete with a second Keynote, more panels, more presentations, and more networking. There’s still more to come tomorrow for the third and final day of AirWorks 2019. 

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Toby Knisely
About the Author Toby Knisely

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