One of the world’s best-known drone manufacturers, DJI, has partnered with one of the world’s best-known infrared imaging companies, FLIR Systems, to create thermal-imaging cameras for aerial vehicles.
But don’t expect to take your DJI Phantom out for night-vision flights anytime soon: These cameras are designed for higher-end drones and specialized applications. And besides, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t cleared drones for routine nighttime flying.
he cameras coming out of the collaboration between China-based DJI and Oregon-based FLIR are more likely to be used during the day – for example, to help firefighters see through smoke, to help farmers monitor crop health from above, or to assist in search-and-rescue operations. Infrared imaging is particularly well-suited for those applications, day or night.
And sure, if law enforcement agents are looking for the bad guys after dark, thermal-imaging drones can come in handy. Night-vision aerial imagery, conducted using a camera-equipped helicopter, played a crucial role in capturing Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.