Intel’s New Aero Drone

aeroIntel, moving rapidly to solidify their position in the drone and robotics business, has unveiled Aero, a “ready to fly” drone.

Don’t expect to buy it at a big box store as a Christmas present. Intel introduced the new quadcopter at the Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday, which is appropriate – the drone is  designed for software developers, rather than drone hobbyists or commercial operators.

The Aero drone is an interesting idea – it’s not so much a profitable product as a way to make the “Intel® Aero Platform for UAVs” more appealing to programmers.  Intel’s UAV developer kit is powered by an Intel® Atom™ quad-core processor, and combines compute, storage, communications and flexible I/O in a playing-card sized format. The drone is an accessory, if you will – a testing tool for developers.  “The Aero Ready To Fly drone is a fully-assembled quadcopter with compute board, integrated depth and vision capabilities using Intel® RealSense™ Technology — the fastest path available from Intel for developers to get applications airborne.”

Going after the developers is a smart move, and could indicate a shift in the way that chip makers go after the sector.  Other chip makers including NVIDIA, Ambarella and Qualcomm are competing for the drone market; they’ve captured their share by partnering with large drone manufacturers like DJI and 3DR.  Capturing the market by selling microprocessors to other hardware manufacturers is a tough business – competition is fierce, and alliances change.  Success is dependent upon the success of the drone manufacturer. Intel is trying to get out ahead of that game by selling the processor before the drone.

Developers can purchase the Aero compute board at Intel for $399; the Aero Ready To Fly Drone will be available by end of year.


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