Ford wants F-150 drivers to be able to launch and control drones from the bed of America's best-selling truck. But programming an app to run the drone from the F-150's dashboard touch screen will be a tough challenge, so Ford is offering a $100,000 prize to programmers to do it for them.
The Drone-To-Vehicle Developer Challenge contest's goal is to produce an app for the drone to survey United Nations emergency zones following disasters, letting first responders quickly produce a map of the disaster area to help plan the best response.
The thinking is that UN teams will drive as far into the affected area as a F-150 4 x 4 can manage, and then launch a drone to scan the impenetrable areas.
“Working with DJI and the United Nations, there is an opportunity to make a big difference with vehicles and drones working together for a common good,” said Ken Washington, Ford's vice president for research and advanced engineering and generally the smartest guy in the room.
The winning app should be simple enough for those of us who aren't as smart as Washington will be able to plot a course for the drone using the truck's touch screen, creating maps of survivors and even shooting photos of them for reference.
Obviously, there's no limit preventing the technology's use in non-UN emergency zones, so Ford predicts the drones can also be harnessed to commercial duty for agriculture, forestry, construction, bridge inspection, and search and rescue jobs.
Stop grousing that you can't think up an app you can sell when Ford is flat-out telling you what they want. Get hacking!