Coming soon: Electric cars with built-in drones

A drone management system will soon be integrated into the roof of the YangWang U8. — AFP Relaxnews

Imagine yourself at the wheel of your electric car, but also, at the same time, in control of a drone that films the road ahead and all around you. That’s what China’s mighty BYD automotive group has in mind, with plans to integrate an automatic drone system into its future top-of-the-range models.

The automaker caused a sensation at BYD Dream Day 2024, a major conference showcasing the group's latest innovations. Its partnership with drone specialist DJI has resulted in the very first system to be integrated directly into a car.

This drone system, which includes a dedicated take-off and landing zone, an intelligent storage area and an automatic recharging system, will be integrated under the roof, which can be opened and closed again as and when the drone needs to fly.

In practice, the operator activates the drone by pressing a button on their screen. They can also control it to obtain specific shots. In all cases, the drone systematically identifies the vehicle and follows it intelligently, transmitting high-definition, low-latency images. The idea is reminiscent of the autonomous drones that are already used to track and film surfers and skiers, for example.

The advantage of having a drone with you at all times when you're driving would be to be able to film the surrounding environment and observe it on your on-board screen. This could result in spectacular videos that offer a whole new perspective on the road ahead and around you. In the case of commercial or professional vehicles, this technology could be useful for emergency and rescue services, offering a wider view of the area to be covered.

The system will be inaugurated this year in a special version of the YangWang U8, BYD Group's new top-of-the-range SUV. Other vehicle models are expected to follow. – AFP Relaxnews

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